Nebraska state officials said Friday an oil spill from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota won’t affect their imminent decision to approve or deny a route for the related Keystone XL project.

A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Public Service Commission said Friday that commissioners will base their decision solely on evidence presented during public hearings and from official public comments.

Supporters and opponents of the project argued their cases to the commission at a four-day hearing in August.

Meanwhile, a Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration representative from the federal government said Friday that the agency’s investigation into the estimated 795,000-litre oil spill  is ongoing.

TransCanada Corp. crews shut down its Keystone pipeline Thursday after a drop in pressure was detected from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County.

State officials say the buried pipeline leak is on agricultural land and don’t believe it has polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems.

Keystone XL map March 2017

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. (Natalie Holdway/CBC)

‘The writing is on the wall’

The pipeline delivers oil from Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. 

The Keystone XL expansion has been fiercely opposed by environmental activists, Indigenous tribes and some landowners.

President Donald Trump has approved a permit for the expansion.

Greenpeace called on the Nebraska government in a statement Friday to reject the plan, saying “the writing on the wall to reject this pipeline could not be more clear.”

“These pipelines are bound to spill, and they put communities, precious drinking water, and our climate at risk. An approval of yet another pipeline is a mistake,” said Rachel Rye Butler from the organization.

“A permit approval allowing Canadian oil company TransCanada to build Keystone XL is a thumbs-up to likely spills in the future. The company does not have a clean track record of preventing spills, so why should they be able to build more pipelines?”

The statement ended with a call to governments to invest in clean energy.

A Nebraska law approved in 2011 prevents the commissioners from factoring pipeline safety or the possibility of leaks into their decisions.

Lawmakers argued at the time that pipeline safety was a federal responsibility that pre-empts state law, but opponents blasted the restriction, saying it caved to the interests of oil interests who lobbied heavily.

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