Tom Stromme / The Bismarck Tribune via AP

Yesterday's Keystone XL approval by Nebraska state regulators hardly means the project is a sure thing, but it could make it more likely that TransCanada will build it.

Why it matters: Wood Mackenzie's Zachary Rogers said the outcome "greatly diminishes" the political risk facing the project, which is also getting a lift from recent market shifts that strengthen the need for heavy crude on the Gulf Coast.

  • He said in a note that "declining heavy oil production in Mexico and ongoing Venezuelan risk has recently tightened the heavy-crude market in the Gulf Coast."

Yes, but: Barclays, meanwhile, points out that the company did not score an outright win because regulators are demanding route adjustments that add new question marks to the project. From their research note:

  • "Given uncertainty as to what this implies in terms of project cost and timeline, as well as the high probability of additional legal delays, we think that, while the ruling is clearly a necessary step in the right direction, there will still be a lack of certainty surrounding the project for some time."
  • They predict the project will come online in late 2021.

TransCanada's take: The company's response stopped short of a firm commitment to actually building the pipeline that has been a flashpoint for energy and climate policy battles for nearly a decade.

  • "As a result of today's decision, we will conduct a careful review of the Public Service Commission's ruling while assessing how the decision would impact the cost and schedule of the project," CEO Russ Girling said in a statement.

Go deeper: The Globe and Mail has an in-depth look at the decision and the hurdles that remain for the project that would carry up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta's oil sands into the U.S.

Go deeper

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 p.m. ET: 32,919,487 — Total deaths: 995,352 — Total recoveries: 22,770,166Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 p.m. ET: 7,089,611 — Total deaths: 204,566 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Biden on Supreme Court fight: "This is about whether or not the ACA will exist"

Joe Biden made health care the overwhelming focus of his remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday, stressing that the Senate confirmation battle over Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court is about preserving the Affordable Care Act in the midst of a pandemic.

Why it matters: Democrats are aggressively pushing the message that Barrett, who has previously criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for his 2012 ruling salvaging the ACA, will seek to invalidate the law when the Supreme Court hears a Trump administration-backed lawsuit against it on Nov. 10.

McMaster: Trump's peaceful transition comments are a "gift to our adversaries"

President Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's presidential election is a "gift to our adversaries," Trump's former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday.

The big picture: McMaster, a retired three-star general, said that the American people must understand that the military will have "no role" in a presidential transition and that it's "irresponsible" to even talk about it as a possibility.

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