A full day of hearings is in the books as the Nebraska Public Service Commission weighs testimony on whether to approve TransCanada’s proposed route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Nebraska.
TransCanada needs approval of a route through the state to build in Nebraska and complete the northern portion of the Keystone XL.
Attorney Dave Domina, representing opposing landowners, suggested during the hearing TransCanada is cooling on the $8 billion project, could get PSC approval, and not build.
“And then somebody else comes along and wants the route, but we’ve already granted one to somebody who won’t use it. Then what?” Domina asked TransCanada Senior Vice President Tony Palmer.
Domina seized on the statement Paul Miller of TransCanada made recently to potential investors that the company won’t decide until November or December whether to start construction on Keystone XL.
Domina suggested the company wants approval of the route and then will turn around and sell it. Palmer rejected the suggestion.
Members of the Public Service Commission asked Palmer why TransCanada wouldn’t want to build Keystone XL alongside the existing Keystone pipeline which has been operating in Nebraska for years.
Palmer said the proposed Keystone XL route is shorter, would cost less, and that the company had already acquired 90% of the land in Nebraska needed to build the pipeline. He referred to it as the preferred route.
“We have studied it comprehensively as has the Department of Environmental Quality, as has the Department of State,” Palmer told commissioners. “We think that that’s the superior route.”
TransCanada has received permission to cross the border and complete construction of Keystone XL by President Trump. It doesn’t, however, have an approved route through Nebraska, the final obstacle for TransCanada to build the northern half of the pipeline. TransCanada proposes building Keystone XL from western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska where it can be connected to the southern portion of the pipeline which is already carrying crude from Oklahoma City to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas.
The PSC has blocked off the entire week to hear testimony, both pro and con, on the proposed route. Hearings are being held at the Cornhusker Marriot in downtown Lincoln.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]