Judge won't dismiss Keystone XL pipeline lawsuit

Lucy Hill
November 23, 2017

The commission, though, approved an alternative route that could throw more uncertainty into the mix for Keystone XL.

Keystone XL will be a shorter route for Canadian crude to the United States, and this route, as per Nebraskan regulators' conditions, will pass close to that of the Keystone pipeline. She noted that the State Department, the lead federal permitting agency, did not analyze the alternative route.

The three commissioners who voted to approve the permit, all Republicans, said in a written opinion that they were very cognizant of the "impacts to the natural resources of the state", but that there was "no utopian option" and that building the pipeline would bring economic benefits to counties along the route.

The Sierra Club highlighted TransCanada's own criticism of the mainline alternative route in its application, where it said the alternative would increase the crossing of highly sensitive soils and ecosystems.

The PSC determined the project is in Nebraska's public interest, overriding the objections of environmental conservationists, Native American tribes and landowners along the pipeline's prospective route. The state's Public Utility Commission is now awaiting the forensic analysis results from the spill to see whether any of the conditions it imposed on the pipeline's operator, TransCanada, had been violated, one commission official told Reuters.

Pipeline proponents need 'stamina of an ox' to endure approval process: TransCanada director

With Nebraska's go-ahead in hand, TransCanada still must formally decide whether to proceed with construction on the line, which would send crude from Hardisty, Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it will connect to pipelines leading to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Despite the leak, the Nebraskan regulators approved the second pipeline project.

"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", Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

President Donald Trump revived the project in January and signed a memoranda expediting the environmental review process for the project. Approval was quickly granted. Its power over the project is drawn from the state's constitution.

Brian Jorde is an attorney with Domina Law Group, the firm representing affected landowners in the case before the PSC. "TransCanada had the burden of proof and its proof failed", his firm said in a statement. "TransCanada failed to prove its tax claims, failed to prove its job numbers, failed to defend its "fixed starting point" contention _ which proved to be created to mislead you", the attorney said. The route is not one preferred by TransCanada, and it could require more time for government agencies to study the changes.

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