But, the Public Service Commission approved on a 3-2 vote this morning the mainline alternative route through Nebraska, not the route preferred by TransCanada.
Commissioner Chrystal Rhoades voted against the pipeline, stating during the PSC’s brief meeting approval of the alternative route throws 40 landowners into the path of Keystone XL without their knowledge.
“The federal and state agencies conducted studies of the proposed route, but the route that is being approved here today is a different route,” Rhoades stated. “Quite simply, the mainline alternative route was not the focus of that intense study.”
No other commissioners made public comments before voting 3-2 in favor of the alternative route.
Voting in favor of Keystone XL were Tim Schram of Gretna, Frank Landis of Lincoln, and Rod Johnson of Sutton. Joining Rhoades to vote against the pipeline was Mary Ridder of Callaway.
The alternative route follows a portion of TransCanada’s preferred route, then crosses nearly 50 miles over to the route now used by the original Keystone pipeline in eastern Nebraska. The counties of Madison, Stanton, Platte, Colfax, Butler, and Seward are now in the path of the pipeline. The route through Antelope, Jefferson, and Saline Counties has changed from the preferred route.
Attorney Brian Jorde, who represented landowners against Keystone XL, says he considers it a victory, because the PSC rejected TransCanada’s preferred route.
“This is just one in a long road of steps,” Jorde tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, this isn’t the end for either side, but we’re encouraged by the ruling, because the entire point was to defeat the preferred route and that’s what we did.”
Jorde says the ruling didn’t shock him.
“There’s no surprise or shock on my behalf whatsoever about this decision,” Jorde says.
The ruling likely doesn’t end the legal battles over the project.