Public Service Commission votes to allow Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted By: Bayley Bischof Channel 8 Eyewitness News 

8@klkntv.com

In a close vote of 3–2, the Nebraska Public Service commission approved the Keystone Pipeline XL, but voted against TransCanada’s preferred route and approved the mainline alternative route which is the pink line.

The key difference between the preferred route, and the one they chose, is 60 percent of the pipeline in the alternative route runs next to one that already exists in eastern Nebraska, the Keystone Pipeline 1.

While the preferred route was already approved by President Donald Trump and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, the commission says it wasn’t the best choice for Nebraska.

Rather, records from the commission say the alternative route will impact less Nebraska land, will be easier to monitor and puts fewer water resources at risk, because the portion of it runs in line with the existing pipeline.

Not all commissioners agreed with the decision to approve the alternate route.

Commissioner Chrystal Rhoades says this new route hasn’t been through enough discussion, because the focus of the trial was on the preferred route.

"At least 40 landowners along the approved route who may not even know their land is in this pipeline’s path, since they may not know they are in the pipeline’s path they may not have participated in this proceeding and may not have had the opportunity to make a case before this commission,” Commissioner Rhoades said.

She also said this route still crosses the Ogallala Aquifer, hasn’t been studied enough for environmental impact and the benefit to Nebraskans hasn’t been proven.

Another commissioner, Rod Johnson voted in favor of the pipeline, but in a statement says TransCanada must keep their promises to Nebraskans or the commission will hold the company accountable.

Brian Jorde, a lawyer representing landowners along the pipeline’s route says this decision doesn’t necessarily mean the pipeline will be built. That Transcanada may need to go through more federal and state regulations before construction can begin, like getting approval from President Trump.

"We had a trial on one specific route and that was called the preferred route, that route was defeated today,” Jorde said. “There was no trial over any other route, any other alternatives, very important to remember and what you heard today is that this commission denied TransCanada’s preferred route."

The Keystone Pipeline spill in South Dakota last week was not factored into this decision.

By law, the commission cannot consider safety or risk of spills since safety is a federal responsibility.

The landowner’s lawyer says the ball in TransCanada’s court as to what comes next in this debate.

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By: Channel 8 Eyewitness Newsroom
8@klkntv.com

The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline coming through the state. 

The commissioners approved a mainline alternate route not the original route proposed by TransCanada. 

The alternative route has yet to be approved by the Federal Government. 

We’ll have more on this story tonight on the Channel 8 Eyewitness News at 5 and 6.