LINCOLN, Neb. -- With yet another obstacle removed for the Keystone XL pipeline, opponents were pressing forward with a lawsuit to challenge the project, public protests and an effort to inject the issue into the November elections.
Supporters and opponents both were quick to claim victories with the U.S. State Department report released Friday, which raised no major objections to the pipeline. The oil industry, some union groups and congressional Republicans called on the Obama administration to move forward, while a coalition of landowners and environmentalists says there is still cause for denying a federal permit. The project would ship 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers in Nebraska who oppose the pipeline are planning to run for seats on a state board that regulates power stations that are needed along the project route. And national activists say they have recruited more than 75,000 volunteers willing to participate in civil disobedience, should President Barack Obama approve the Keystone project.
The project now goes to a 30-day comment period and a review by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other agencies. Mr. Obama has 90 days to make the decision on the pipeline, but the White House on Friday disputed the notion that the report is headed to a fast approval. Oil began flowing last week through an Oklahoma-to-Texas section already approved by Mr. Obama.
"There's no question, if the president approves this permit, that there will be civil disobedience," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska, which has helped organize opposition in the state. "We've said from the beginning that we will support the landowners and what they want to do and what they think is best for their property. I think you'll see some landowners driving really slow on their county roads to block the [pipeline] trucks."
Project backers said the report -- the latest in a five-year review by state and federal agencies -- bolsters their case for the pipeline and eliminates the need for further delays.