Nebraska Regulators Approve Keystone Pipeline Route Days After South Dakota Leak, Shutdown

TransCanada received its final required pipeline route approval, winning Nebraska’s permission to build its long-delayed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline across the state... just days after a 5,000 barrel spill in South Dakota shut the pipeline.

The decision will almost certainly be challenged in court.

Just a few short days after 210,000 gallons of crude oil spilled in South Dakota, Bloomberg reports that Nebraska's Public Service Commission voted three to two Monday, removing one of the last hurdles to the Calgary-based company’s construction of the $8 billion, 1,179-mile conduit (1,897-kilometer), which has been on its drawing boards since 2008.

For those who aren't familiar with the project, the pipeline links Canada’s Alberta oil sands to U.S. refineries.  While a portion of the pipeline has been operating, part of it had still not been approved by state regulators... until today's decision by Nebraska.

However, as Bloomberg notes, the commission approved an alternative route.

Jane Kleeb, president of the environmental advocacy group Bold Alliance, said green-lighting an alternative route may have helped the commission reach a "middle ground solution.”


At the same time it opens new questions that she said her group would explore in federal court. She argued the secondary route wasn’t adequately vetted.


That view mirrored a dissenting opinion filed by Commissioner Crystal Rhoades. She wrote that TransCanada didn’t meet "the burden of proof” in proving that the pipeline is in the state’s public interest, and she said the alternative route needed more study on both the state and federal level. For example, she said, Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality didn’t analyze the alternative route at all in its 2013 report.


"It is clear” TransCanada “never intended it to be considered," Rhoades said.


In its post-hearing brief, TransCanada told the panel its "preferred route was the product of literally years of study, analysis and refinement by Keystone, federal agencies and Nebraska agencies," and that no alternate route, even one paralleling the Keystone mainline as the approved path does, was truly comparable.

TransCanada's share price is up on the news...

Notably, with Nebraska’s go-ahead in hand, TransCanada still must formally decide whether to proceed with construction on the line, which would send crude from Hardisty, Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it will connect to pipelines leading to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The company’s open season for gauging producers’ interest closed late last month, and TransCanada executives have indicated that they’ve secured enough shipping commitments to make the project commercially worthwhile.


Ex-Oligarch YUNOSELL Mon, 11/20/2017 - 14:57 Permalink

Possibly because they read misleading articles like the one above, which treat a spill on the old, outdated pipeline owned by Keystone as if the spill took place on the new XL pipeline which is intended to replace it.If the "environmentalists" opposing this project were really concerned about preventing spills, they would at least address the potential merits of using current technology and improved materials in place of the old pipe.  But they won't.

In reply to by YUNOSELL

Hubbs Mon, 11/20/2017 - 11:47 Permalink

So who got paid, and how much to pass this?Instead of looking at projected oil flows from thermodynamically  inefficient energy returned on energy investment (EROEI) tar sands extraction, look at the doomed projected capital inflows into this boondoggle, and how they will wind up in securitized pension fund dead investment ledgers, but only after the banks and brokers have made their commissions and government-sponsored bailouts.It will be shale oil financial chicanery deja vu.

Endgame Napoleon Money_for_Nothing Mon, 11/20/2017 - 16:30 Permalink

It transports Canadian oil en route to China across Nebraska farmland. If there is a major leak, it seems like Canada would have to clean up, but maybe not in this global world with national boundaries that are ephemeral. Maybe, the foreign company buying the oil from Canada would be responsible. Maybe, a Chinese company is paying for the oil-transportation infrastructure. I think the US has to put jobs ahead of environmentalist zealots, but I am not sure how many [permanent] jobs at wages sufficient to support a household that this pipeline construction creates for American citizens, as opposed to more jobs for immigrants receiving welfare and child tax credits up to $6,318 for sex and reproduction. These things are unclear. It is also difficult to say whether oil-soaked farmland is capable of resuscitation. In the massive sea, oil spills seem to be diluted over time, not that I really know as a non-scientist.

In reply to by Money_for_Nothing

Jeepers Creepers Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:10 Permalink

Every form of energy has risk, the people against the pipelines are just Marxists pretending to be concerned about safety.  Or Indian burial grounds. You transport this stuff by rail, tell me there's no risk plus all the energy wasted moving it. I guess we can always just have unicorn farts power everything.

silverer Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:32 Permalink

That's not a lot of oil. You just clean it up. Oil tends to bind in soil and not travel far. It's also a natural product. The only difference is instead of being underground, it got moved to the top of the ground. That even happens in several places naturally. This whole thing with the environment and lawsuits is communism inspired. Because a capitalist greedy company actually does not want a spill or to lose product. It costs money. This pipeline leak still is not nearly as bad Warren Buffett's oil train wrecks by a long shot.

Motaba Mon, 11/20/2017 - 14:32 Permalink

The Keystone XL can be profitable only in the following scenario:Export of Canadian oil to western Europe after Russia is hit with more sanctions.

HilbertSpace Mon, 11/20/2017 - 14:56 Permalink

I heard that Canada is next door to the same oceans as US. You'd think that they could build their own pipelines, but I guess that commie in charge up there has shut all that down. This is why China will kick our asses. If they had the same people protest essential progress like a pipeline, they'd bury them under it.