Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline claim a partial victory and vow to fight on.
The Public Service Commission, on a 3-2 vote, approved Keystone XL, but approved an alternative to the preferred route of TransCanada.
Ken Winston with the Sierra Club of Nebraska says the issue isn’t over.
“We will continue to fight this bad idea and this decision doesn’t change our intent and we intend to keep fighting it until we finally stop it, which I’m confident we will,” Winston tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The PSC held hearings in August on three proposed routes for Keystone XL to be constructed through Nebraska. It approved the Mainline Alternative Route, rejecting TransCanada’s preferred route through the state.
The alternative route enters the state at the same point as the preferred route and follows its path through much of the state, until it veers in Antelope County to follow the route of the original Keystone oil pipeline, which operates in eastern Nebraska.
TransCanada proposes building the $8 billion project to complete the northern portion of Keystone XL. TransCanada proposes building Keystone XL from the oil sands fields of western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. It then could be connected to the southern portion of the pipeline, which is now operating from Oklahoma City to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas.
TransCanada won presidential approval from President Donald Trump after being rejected by President Barack Obama. Obama stated approval of Keystone XL would undermine the United States’ standing as a leader in reducing carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.
Jane Kleeb with Bold Nebraska says the legal battle will continue, despite the PSC decision.
“Anything other than a straight up approval of TransCanada’s preferred route we saw as a step in the right direction,” Kleeb tells Nebraska Radio Network. “They approved an alternative route, which throws now the entire project into question.”
Kleeb says opponents of Keystone XL will not give up.
“So, we’ll continue to fight this, right? Every time we think that we’re at the end of the road there’s another caveat, another asterisk and today is no different,” according to Kleeb. “And so, we will take this to federal court and we will dispute that this route has never had a proper federal review and will continue to stand with the land owners and the tribes.”
The PSC ruling came after a legal process which stretched over more than nine months, including nearly a week’s worth of hearings in early August.
“The Order speaks for itself,” PSC chair Tim Schram stated. “While we would like to thank everyone who participated in this process it would be inappropriate to comment further as legal challenges to the decision remain a possibility.”
The PSC reports parties to the proceeding have 30 days to file an appeal of the decision with the courts.