TransCanada Corp., the company behind the highly contested Keystone XL pipeline project, requested Monday to suspend its U.S. permit application, the Wall Street Journal reported. The move, hailed by opponents as a great victory, comes before an expected rejection from the Obama administration. It also comes at a time of low oil prices that have sapped the value of  the company’s oil reserves. The suspension could potentially put off the permit request until after the 2016 election. 

TransCanada reportedly requested the suspension of the federal application in order to go through a state review process in Nebraska. While company executives have repeatedly said they would not back down from seeking a permit despite widespread political, economic and environmental controversy, President Barack Obama has frequently expressed doubts about the project, and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton recently came out against it.

“In order to allow time for certainty regarding the Nebraska route, TransCanada requests that the State Department pause in its review of the presidential permit application for Keystone XL,” the company said in the suspension request reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. “This will allow a decision on the permit to be made later based on certainty with respect to the route of the pipeline.” 

"Our expectation at this point is that the president will make a decision before the end of his administration on the Keystone pipeline, but when exactly that will be, I don't know at this point," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters earlier Monday while traveling on Air Force One, Reuters reported.

Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben, who has been leading the fight against the pipeline, rejoiced at the news.


The State Department had reportedly been in the final stages of review, and a decision was expected to come as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported. The administration has power over the plan because it would cross the U.S.-Canada border.