TransCanada defends current Keystone XL route in Nebraska pipeline hearings – Business

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline questioned its proposed pathway through Nebraska on Tuesday in hopes that state regulators will reject or reroute it, a decision that would create more delays for the 9-year-old project.

But pipeline builder TransCanada defended its proposal to the Nebraska Public Service Commission, arguing that the company’s “preferred route” makes the most sense and causes the least amount of disruption.

The proposed pipeline faced another day of scrutiny in a hearing Wednesday before the Nebraska Public Service Commission, whose five members must decide whether the Keystone XL serves the public interest. Approving the project would allow TransCanada to gain access to holdout landowners’ property using Nebraska’s eminent domain laws.

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring oil from Alberta all the way to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. (Natalie Holdway/CBC)

The 1,900-kilometre crude oil pipeline has faced relentless criticism from environmental groups, Native American tribes and a well-organized minority of Nebraska landowners who don’t want the project cutting through their property. Business groups and some unions support the Keystone XL, saying it will provide jobs and property tax revenue for local governments.

Opponents argue that, if it wins approval, the Keystone XL should run along the same path as the original Keystone pipeline, a line through eastern Nebraska that was completed with little opposition in 2010. TransCanada’s preferred route would carry crude oil roughly 275 miles through Nebraska, whereas the original Keystone route only stretches 210 miles, said Brian Jorde, an attorney for the landowners.

Company officials have said their preferred route is the most direct way to transport oil from Alberta, Canada, to an existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska. Rerouting the pipeline would add millions of dollars to the project’s $8 billion price tag.

Because it would travel along a nearly straight path, company officials said their preferred route would affect the least amount of land. TransCanada considered other routes, including one that would have run along Interstate 90 in South Dakota, but rejected them because they were longer, said Meera Kothari, a company engineer.

The most direct path “lends itself to a diagonal route through Alberta, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska,” Kothari said.

The company has also argued that the route through neighbouring South Dakota is already set, thus…

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