New Route for Keystone XL Could Be Oil Pipeline's Death Blow

Posted November 23, 2017

Keystone XL is planned to pass through Montana and South Dakota, ending in Nebraska, where it would connect to the existing pipeline network that goes on to the Gulf Coast. At the same time it opens new questions that she said her group would explore in federal court.

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. The decision, though, wasn't wrinkle-free: The panel mandated an alternative route that was immediately targeted by the project's opponents as lacking adequate vetting.

"We were surprised that they did select the alternate route", said Madison County Commissioner Ron Schmidt.

The project has faced a barrage of criticism from environmental activists and some landowners for almost a decade. During a proceeding that lasted less than 10 minutes, the commission's three men overruled its two women and approved building the Keystone XL, but on a route much different than the one TransCanada preferred.

The pipeline transports crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in IL and Oklahoma, passing through the eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. If TransCanada wants to proceed, it faces years of additional state regulatory review and court proceedings.

President Donald Trump revived the project in January and signed a memoranda expediting the environmental review process for the project. The current pipeline runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and extends east into Missouri and IL.

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With TransCanada noncommittal on whether it's even interested in using the PSC's permit, analysts say Nebraska regulators have made it far less likely the project ever gets completed and turned what was supposed to be the final chapter in the Keystone review process into a possible death blow.

The panel heard testimony and took in evidence during a four-day August hearing.

The U.S. State Department found the KXL project would support about 42,100 jobs and contribute $34 billion to the economy _ including millions of dollars of new economic activity, millions of dollars in annual property tax revenue and hundreds of jobs for Nebraskans _ according to the company's filing.

David Domina, who represented landowners before the commission, called the commission's decision a victory. He urged the commission to reject the project, contending TransCanada's lawyers hadn't met their burden of proof. "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 approved by the PSC was not TransCanada Corp.'s 275-mile preferred route.

Native American tribes claimed it threatened their historic lands and cultural sites.