Decision on Keystone XL pipeline to be set

Ivan Schwartz
November 22, 2017

TransCanada says on its website that the company has safely transported more than 1.5bn barrels of oil, or about 63bn gallons (with the exception of the South Dakota spill as well as several other minor spills), through the system since operations began in 2010. "The economics are already stacked against this project and it's just a matter of time before the last few backers pull out leaving TransCanada all alone".

The Nebraska Public Service Commission on Monday approved a route for the proposed pipeline, but it veers away from a route preferred by developer TransCanada and approved by the federal government.

Commissioners could tweak TransCanada's proposed route, or pick one of the company's "alternative" routes.

As the KXL's proposed route crosses the Ogallala Aquifer, a major underground deposit of fresh water, a spill could threaten waterways and drinking water sources.

While TransCanada has promoted the pipeline project as a jobs creator, Rhoades said that "there was no evidence provided that any jobs created by the construction of this project would be given to Nebraska residents". The current pipeline runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and extends east into Missouri and IL.

11/21/2017The Nebraska Public Service Commission has authorized the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, but the decision now leaves serious questions about whether the $8-billion pipeline will ever be built.

"All new pipelines from Alberta, including Kinder Morgan's expansion project to the B.C. coast, Enbridge's line 9 to the east, or the Keystone XL going south the United States, mean more Alberta bitumen extraction, which represents one of the most polluting sources of fossil fuel production in the world", declared Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). The Nebraska commission is not an environmental regulator, and is only meant to weigh whether the project is in the state's economical interest.

That's because the commission approved the "mainline alternative route", and that's not the route that the pipeline operator wants. President Donald Trump vowed to reverse that determination and, in January, invited the company to reapply.

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Russ Girling, TransCanada president and CEO, said the company was evaluating the PSC's decision on the 830,000-barrel-per-day pipeline that will carry oil sands crude from terminals in Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, where it can then reach refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

McConaghy said he believes the company has secured the volume needed to make the project economically viable.

Walsh says there's no visible oil in the ditch. Since rail is a more expensive form of transport, heavy Canadian crude prices will need to trade at a bigger discount to West Texas Intermediate futures.

Ongoing legal challenges to the project, and the change of route in Nebraska could add further complications. Kleeb said pipeline opponents plan to challenge two of the Republican commissioners, Frank Landis and Tim Schram, who voted for the alternative route and are up for re-election in the 2018 general election.

But the commission's decision could still enable President Trump to claim a victory on a campaign issue. There are at least 40 landowners along the approved route who may not even know that their land is in this pipeline's path.

"With their disgusting safety record, today's spill is just the latest tragedy caused by the irresponsible oil company TransCanada", said Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist at Friends of the Earth. "The Nebraska Public Service Commission should look to today's disastrous leak as Exhibit A when commissioners decide in the coming week whether to allow Transcanada to extend this hazardous pipeline through their state".

"This is a long and winding road", said Brian Jorde, an attorney for the landowners.

Other reports by GizPress

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