One of the project’s most vocal opponents, BOLD Nebraska spokeswoman Jane Kleeb says she’s hoping the panel denies the proposed route but there are three possibilities.
“It can either approve the preferred route which is the route we’ve all be talking about for eight years, it can approve an alternative route where it would still go through portions of the Sandhills but then the pipe would be laid next to Keystone One which would help a lot of landowners, obviously, and water,” Kleeb says. “And then the third option is that they reject it outright.”
Either way the decision falls, Kleeb expects the PSC’s decision will not be final as it’ll certainly head to court next.
“Whoever ‘loses’ will file an appeal,” she says. “That’s the legal process that you have. You have 30 days to file an appeal and then the appeal process takes approximately six months. The appeal first goes to the Public Service Commission and then it goes to district court. It’s a two-step process within the same appeal.”
Kleeb says Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers have a lot to lose should the PSC approve the XL pipeline route. She notes, agricultural land values are fundamental to any family operation.
“When a pipeline goes through, your property values drop by 15% immediately, overnight,” she says. “This is the thing we’ve argued in front of the Public Service Commission, that sure, there’s some property taxes from Keystone when they put the pipeline in, but there’s also property taxes decreased when you put the pipeline in because of the land value.”
Kleeb says her group’s members are confident they’ve presented a strong enough case to the PSC about the need to reject TransCanada’s request for the pipeline route.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton