U.S. set to recommend approval of Keystone XL pipeline on Friday

The Keystone XL pipeline will get a recommendation of approval from the U.S. State Department on Friday, opening the door for the White House to give the project the green light, according to The Associated Press.

Project still needs to win approval in Nebraska

Pipes ready to become part of the Keystone XL pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla., in this 2012 photo. The U.S. State Department is expected to recommend approval of the pipeline Friday. (Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press)

The Keystone XL pipeline is expected to get a recommendation of approval from the U.S. State Department on Friday.

The Associated Press, which cited two unnamed sources, said Tom Shannon — who is undersecretary in the State Department — will issue the approval tomorrow.

That move would clear the way for the White House to approve the pipeline.

"We'll have an update on that for you tomorrow," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday.

Politico earlier reported that the approval would come by Monday, which is the last day in a 60-day timeline set in motion by U.S. President Donald Trump back in January, when he issued an executive order that invited Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. to reapply for a presidential permit. The order also instructed the U.S. State Department to "take all actions necessary and appropriate to facilitate its expeditious review." 

The 1,900-kilometre, 90-centimetre diameter pipeline would bring about 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Hardisty, Alta., through Montana and South Dakota to Steele City, Neb. There it would tie into the existing Keystone pipeline, which carries oil to Illinois and Texas.

"We do anticipate a decision by the State Department during the 60 days they have been given," TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha told CBC News in an email statement. "At the moment, we continue to work with the administration on our presidential permit application."

Approval from the U.S. government is not the final hurdle for the project. It still needs to win approval in Nebraska. A decision from the Nebraska Public Service Commission is expected in late September, Politico said.

The project also needs approval from landowners in the state.

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said the Keystone XL approval would be good news, even though it won't change his government's plan to look for new markets in Asia.

"All of the approvals are in place north of the 49th parallel [for Keystone XL]," Carr said Thursday on Parliament Hill. 

"There is still approval required from Nebraska that TransCanada will have to find, but to have the president of the United States approve a pipeline that we've supported for a very long time now would be good news," he said.

Keystone XL was originally rejected by then president Barack Obama, who turned it down in November 2015 saying it "will not serve the national interests of the United States."

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. (Canadian Press)

With files from The Associated Press