TransCanada Plans Clearing Montana Land for Keystone in Fall

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(Bloomberg) -- TransCanada Corp. will take the initial steps of clearing brush in Montana this fall for construction of the highly-contentious Keystone XL pipeline.

Construction on the conduit may begin next year, according to a U.S. State Department letter addressed to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes obtained by Bloomberg News. The purpose of the letter, dated April 10, was to continue government-to-government communication in order to “avoid, minimize or mitigate” any negative effects of the project.

The 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) crude oil pipeline that will connect Alberta’s oil sands to Steele City, Nebraska, has been controversial. While it’s considered necessary for Canadian oil producers, who have seen prices drop because a lack of conduits to take their fuel to hotter markets, it’s been fought by environmentalists. Construction beginning in Montana inches TransCanada one step closer to shutting the door on this decade-long debate.

TransCanada expects “construction to begin in 2019 and we are conducting the necessary work to prepare for those activities,” Matthew John, a spokesman for TransCanada, said in an email Thursday.

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