The Public Service Commission voted 5-0 against TransCanada.
Attorney Dave Domina, who represents landowners opposed to Keystone XL, says the vote makes the earlier PSC ruling that TransCanada could build along an alternative route vulnerable to a court challenge.
“TransCanada’s problem is that the Public Service Commission is not authorized to approve something the applicant doesn’t request,” Domina tells Nebraska Radio Network. “TransCanada knows that and knows that therefore it is stuck.”
Last month, the PSC declined to approve the Keystone XL route through Nebraska preferred by TransCanada. Instead, the commission on a 3-2 vote gave permission for TransCanada to build the pipeline along an alternative route that more closely followed the original Keystone pipeline path through the state.
TransCanada filed a motion with the PSC, asking permission to amend its application to conform with the PSC ruling. The PSC heard oral arguments on the motion December 12th.
Domina expects the issue to head to the courts with the likelihood of Keystone XL ever being built dropping dramatically.
“I think it is negligible,” Domina says. “When I saw what the commission had done today, and I thought they would do today, my immediate reaction was to say to my assistant, ‘That pipeline’s dead.’”
TransCanada spokeswoman Robynn Tysver tells Nebraska Radio Network in an email the company will take some time to review the PSC decision and determine the appropriate step, adding,
“Keystone XL remains a viable project with strong commercial support and we remain committed to this project. It is important to remember that this project continues to have widespread support of the U.S. and Canadian federal governments, as well as state officials in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. President Trump and his administration continue to actively support Keystone XL and we expect to secure final federal permits in early 2018.”
Keystone XL is an $8 billion project. The southern portion of the pipeline is actually in operation from Oklahoma City to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. TransCanada has received permission from President Trump to cross the United States/Canada border, but the company lacks a path through Nebraska.
TransCanada proposes building a 36-inch pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. It would carry crude oil made from the oil sands in western Canada.
Click here to review the PSC order.