Четверг, 14 Декабря, 2017

Nebraska Just Approved Keystone XL Pipeline, Securing Victory. But for Whom?

PREMIERS MEETING 20170718 If Keystone XL gets built Alberta Premier Rachel Notley will be among the politcal winners
Laurie Berry | 21 Ноября, 2017, 18:38

Nebraska regulators approved passage of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline Monday, clearing the last major regulatory hurdle for the controversial $10-billion project but creating a new wrinkle by choosing an alternative route.

The incident comes just four days before the Nebraska Public Service Commission is set to decide whether it will issue a permit to TransCanada to start building the Keystone XL.

Environmental groups lobbied against the Keystone XL, expressing concerns that the pipeline will rely on Canadian oil sands - a dirtier form of oil that releases more greenhouse gases than standard oil extraction.

While it approved the pipeline work, the commission ruled that the line should be located closer to TransCanada's existing line in the state to minimize environmental risk and danger to local species. The commission was not allowed to take into account a leak last week of 210,000 gallons from the existing Keystone pipeline onto South Dakota farmland because pipeline safety is a federal responsibility. The grasslands are now being cleaned by a special team funded by Keystone operators. Environmental groups claim that the alternative route has not been properly studied.

The existing Keystone pipeline transports crude oil from Canada to refineries in Oklahoma and IL, and passes through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.

Regulators in the USA state of Nebraska on Monday granted a key approval needed for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the source of a almost decade-long feud between environmental activists and the energy industry.

"The decision by Nebraska essentially diminishes the political risk in the equation, and longer-term, should this pipeline get built, it will be the Western Canadian producers who will likely emerge the big winners".

The company did not respond Monday to emailed questions about how the route change might affect that decision.

The first Keystone pipeline leaked in 2011 and 2016.

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"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.

A law firm representing landowners hailed the decision to deny TransCanada its preferred Keystone XL route through Nebraska. That should give TransCanada pause because it is proposing an entirely new pipeline while the Trans Mountain expansion and the Line 3 replacement would merely add on to existing projects. This time around, the Nebraska PSC determined TransCanada's preferred route wasn't as attractive as the so-called Mainline Alternative Route. Those, he said, included that farmland disturbed by pipeline construction would be fully restored and that the Keystone XL would be the safest pipeline in history.

In March of this year, after the State Department spent less than 60 days reviewing Obama's 2015 decision, Trump approved TransCanada's proposal. The third and last option for Alberta is Keystone XL.

The Keystone XL project still faces potential legal challenges.

TransCanada's brief statement following the decision wasn't exactly a victory lap. "They'll need new plans, new permits, new agreements with landowners, new assessments, and more", 350.org co-founder Jamie Henn tweeted. "We farm around pipelines (already)".

Rhoades, the PSC commissioner from Omaha, said in her written dissent that the due process rights of landowners on the new route were violated because they weren't informed about it by the state or TransCanada, and thus had no opportunity to comment on the routing process. The project had the support of the state's governor, Republican Pete Ricketts, its chamber of commerce, trade unions and the petroleum industry.

Boeve said, "Indigenous peoples, farmers, and ranchers along Keystone XL's proposed route have been holding the line against this project for years".

"We see many benefits to maximizing the co-location of the Keystone XL pipeline with Keystone I", the commission majority wrote.

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