The company will drop legal proceedings in Holt County both to validate the state law used to settle on the Keystone XL route and to use eminent domain against landowners who have refused to settle with TransCanada for an easement through their property.
It’s a change of strategy for TransCanada on Keystone XL.
“I think you could call it that,” TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper tells Nebraska Radio Network. “After seven years we need to be nimble in the decisions that we make as a company and we believe that going through the PSC process at this point is the clearest path to achieving route certainty for Keystone XL in Nebraska.”
TransCanada had been battling a legal challenge to the Keystone XL route evaluated by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and approved by Gov. Dave Heineman in 2013.
Critics had challenged the law in court, claiming it violated the Nebraska Constitution which requires common carriers to go through the PSC.
Cooper says TransCanada concluded the shift back to the PSC would provide a quicker process to settle on the Keystone XL route.
“You know, that process was likely to carry on,” according to Cooper. “I think it’s fair to say that whoever was unsuccessful in the bid in the lower court would appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court. And we just felt like this was the process that would ultimately save time and reduce conflict with those who oppose the project and set some pretty clear rules for the state.”
Cooper acknowledges the move won’t silence all of the Keystone XL opponents.
“There are some, a vocal minority of folks, that will oppose the project and continue to oppose the project,” Cooper said. “I think it’s also fair to say, though, that this process through the PSC is a process that many of those people have argued that would be the most appropriate process to move forward in.”
TransCanada reports it has reached voluntary easement agreements with 96% of 2,600 Nebraska property owners along the previously approved Keystone XL route.