The whole process started four years ago, but screeched to a halt in early 2012 after President Barack Obama vetoed the permit on the grounds that the analysis of the pipline's potential environmental impacts wasn't thorough enough.
Taking environmental concerns into consideration, TransCanada—the Calgary-based pipeline operator—revised the route, skirting Nebraska's fragile Sand Hills region, a major point of contention with the original route. After Gov. Dave Heineman, R-Neb., approved the new route, the State Department released its most recent draft environmental impact statement, which determined if the environmental impacts of building and operating the pipeline were manageable.
The comment period in which the public and other interested parties can pipe up and send their two cents about the project is almost up – the State Department will take those comments into consideration when finalizing the environmental impact statement and then conduct a national interest evaluation to determine whether the pipeline is in the nation's public interest.
The final decision on the pipeline is expected as early as late summer.