Nebraska Regulators on Monday allowed the Keystone XL Oil pipeline to clear its final major hurdle, granting a Victory to President Trump and Republicans who have for years pressed for the Project. But the Pipeline company will not be allowed to Build along its Preferred Route, the Regulators announced, opening up new Questions about how the Project will Proceed.
Monday’s decision came just four days after another Pipeline operated by the same Company spilled 210,000 Gallons of Oil in neighboring South Dakota, blackening a swath of Rural grassland. Opponents of Keystone XL said that Episode underscored the Risks of Crude Oil Pipelines. But under Nebraska Law, the State Public Service Commission is not allowed to consider Pipeline Safety and Spill Risks when deciding on a Permit.
Nebraska emerged more than seven years ago as an unlikely Center of Opposition to Keystone XL, which would run more than 1,100 Miles from Alberta, Canada, to Southern Nebraska and connect there with existing Pipelines. Permits and Land-Use Easements have long been in place along the Pipeline’s Route through Canada, Montana, and South Dakota, leaving Nebraska as the last Major obstacle to Construction.
Supporters of Keystone XL, including many Labor Unions and Business groups, have called the Pipeline an Economic necessity that would bring more North American Oil to market, Create Jobs and provide a Safer alternative to Transporting Oil by Rail or Truck.
But the number of Jobs will be small, and this Oil would not be sold in the U.S. as it will go to the Tax Free Zone in Texas, then sold to other Countries, and because of the Fee Tax Zone the U.S. will not receive any Export Tax income.
The Opponents in Nebraska, a Bipartisan Coalition of Landowners, Native Americans, and Environmentalists, stalled the Pipeline during Obama’s Presidency by forcing a Route Change and then tying up the Project in Court. They questioned the Project’s Economic Merits and said it posed a grave Threat to their State’s Groundwater and Farmland.
President Obama eventually denied a Border-Crossing Permit in 2015, citing Climate change, but President Trump reversed that Decision this year. Trump was quoted at the time saying that he believed “Nebraska will be good” and that he would call Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican who supports the Pipeline. But the Permitting Decision fell not to Ricketts but to the Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC), an Elected Panel of Four Republicans and one Democrat that Functions in relative obscurity and Regulates the State’s Pipelines, Electric Lines, and Telecommunications. That Commission considered Arguments at a multiday hearing in Lincoln in August that was preceded by a Large Anti-Pipeline Protest outside the Nebraska Capitol.
An interesting point is the Pipeline could have started in the U.S. without the State Department and the Presidential Approval.
The pipeline Company, TransCanada, said in its written Arguments that the Project was safe and a Potential Economic boon for Nebraska, noting that about 90% of Landowners along the Route had already Signed Easements allowing for Construction. Company Officials said that “if Keystone XL truly impacted the future use of land, it would be expected that a far greater number than 10 percent of landowners would not have agreed” to Easements.
But Lawyers for a group of about 90 Holdout Landowners pleaded against the Permit and Predicted that “the pipeline with its sludge inside” could eventually be Abandoned and “waste in Nebraska’s soil until landowners left with the mess are required to remove it.”
“The rental value of nearby Nebraska real estate will be depressed by the pipeline’s presence,” Lawyers for the Landowners wrote. “It causes long-term operating efficiency losses for farm and ranch operators. The land will be permanently impaired.”
Some have questioned whether there would still be enough Interest among Oil Shippers to support the Pipeline, but TransCanada reiterated its support of the Project in early November. “We anticipate commercial support for the project to be substantially similar to that which existed when we first applied for a Keystone XL pipeline permit,” a Company Statement said.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker