Public Service Commission members have heard a request by TransCanada to amend its motion to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Nebraska.
And the two main attorneys quarreled over whether the PSC by granting the request would become, in effect, a kangaroo court.
Attorney Dave Domina, representing landowners opposed to Keystone XL, suggested granting TransCanada’s request to modify its application would damage the reputation of the PSC.
“That would make a mockery of you. It would make a mockery of the judiciary. And it would make a mockery of all of the administrative jurisprudence system,” Domina stated during a hearing before the PSC on the TransCanada motion. “It would turn us all into kangaroos. That’s what they’re asking you to do.”
Domina’s suggestion offended TransCanada attorney James Powers.
“To any way refer to this commission as a kangaroo court or that our client was trying to buy some injustice or some implication that the route that the commission in its constitutionally created obligation to the citizens of the state found that was in the public interest, I think is just improper,” Powers told commissioners.
Domina earlier in the hearing noted TransCanada has spent a lot of money attempting to sell the project to both state lawmakers and the public.
Powers requested the PSC allow TransCanada to modify its application to accept the mainline alternative route approved by the PSC. Last month, the PSC rejected the route preferred by TransCanada, but approved the alternative on a 3-2 vote.
TransCanada says a modified application would head off further hearings on the route.
Domina and other attorneys appearing at the PSC hearing Tuesday afternoon argued state law doesn’t allow the PSC to grant TransCanada’s request.
Powers told PSC members TransCanada remains committed to the project, but believes modification would move the process along.
“(TransCanada) had been seeking approval as we know for years in Nebraska and would like to the extent there are issues that people feel that they need to have an opportunity to address that haven’t previously been addressed and we’re not aware of those,” Powers said. “But, if there are and they come forward, let’s have the hearing, resolve it; the time is now.”
Domina countered that approving the application would violate the process set out by state law.
“You know, TransCanada wants you to hop over a statute, hop over another one, hop over their own application, hop over the discovery process, hop over the hearings, hop over the trial, hop over the words in your own decision, let them start over without going through all of those processes and all of those things,” according to Domina. “Now, that’s a lot of hopping.”
Keystone XL is an $8 billion project which would transport crude made from oil sands in western Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas.
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.
The PSC will issue a decision later.