Published: Wed, December 20, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Nebraska Public Service Commission denied amendment to XL pipeline application

The Nebraska Public Service Commission said Tuesday that TransCanada couldn't amend its application to formally request an alternative route for the pipeline through the state.

"We remain committed to the Keystone XL project", he said.

Opponents considered the December 19 order a victory because it keeps TransCanada from filing an amended application for federal approval and forces it to submit a new one requiring fresh environmental reviews and setting the stage for more legal challenges, Oil & Gas Journal (O&GJ) reported.

"What that means is that TransCanda is stuck with a 3-2 vote that approved a route that the company never applied for", Domina said Tuesday.

"It's pretty improbable that this pipeline will get built in Nebraska", he said.

The pipeline's current position is closer to an existing pipeline route down the eastern side of the midwestern state.

But the PSC on Tuesday rejected that request, as well as a request by the Sierra Club to nullify the approval of the alternative route.

And, if an appeals court finds an issue with the PSC's decision to approve an alternative route, TransCanada could find itself back at square one.

TransCanada spokeswoman Robynn Tysver said the company is "going to take some time to review today's decision and determine our next step".

"More importantly, Keystone XL remains a viable project with strong commercial support", Cunha said in an email adding that both Canadian and American governments support the pipeline, including an executive order from U.S. President Donald Trump.

But Omaha attorney Dave Domina, who also represents anti-pipeline landowners, said TransCanada is now holding "a fistful of feathers". "We certainly hope that they would reach that conclusion, that this is not in their best interest", he said of TransCanada.

Parties now have 30 days to file an appeal with the Nebraska Court of Appeals.

Lawyers opposed to TransCanada Corp.'s controversial Keystone XL pipeline expect "a race to the courthouse" in Nebraska to appeal the state's recent approval of an alternative route for the pipeline.

While the southern portion of the project was completed years ago, construction of the portion from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, was blocked by then-President Barack Obama as damaging to the environment. However, the regulator signed off an alternative route for Keystone XL - rather than TransCanada's preferred route - which has been questioned by opponents as a violation of Nebraska statutes.

TransCanada could appeal the commission's ruling, but that may take several months, Mr. Domina said.

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