Will TransCanada finally pull the plug on KXL?

Will TransCanada finally pull the plug on KXL?

The Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a route for TransCanada’s Keystone XL DilBit pipeline (KXL), but did not approve TransCanada’s preferred route. Instead the PSC approved what is called the Mainline Alternative Route, which would have portions of the KXL run alongside their existing Keystone I pipeline.

Yes, the Keystone I pipe, which has leaked 16 times since it was buried in Nebraska soil in 2009. It seems TransCanada is having a heck of a time keeping their toxic DilBit inside their pipe. Right now, cleanup efforts are going on in South Dakota because the Keystone I leaked over 200,000 gallons of diluted tarsand oil.

The vote of the five PSC commissions went 3 to 2 in favor of granting TransCanada this Mainline Alternative Route. Three commissioners said it was in the public interest, two said it was not. Their final 74-page report mentioned many times that the PSC was not allowed to consider safety or leaks when making their decision. What a joke!

But the new Major Oil Pipeline Siting Act (MOPSA) in Nebraska was crafted in such a way, the PSC who is charged with approving major oil pipeline routes was forbidden to consider safety and focus only on public interest. That’s like saying they can’t see anything wrong for kids to play with matches because they can’t consider what would happen if the kids started a fire. It is absurd.

Looking up the purpose of MOPSA, the first article listed is, “Ensure the welfare of Nebraskans, including property rights, aesthetic values and economic interests.” Looking up the definition of welfare as it pertains to governmental bodies I find, “The concern of the government for the health, peace, morality, and safety of its citizens.” See the word safety in there? Well, in Nebraska, under the MOPSA law, apparently,, ensuring the welfare of Nebraskans does not include keeping them safe. Just a guess, but it looks like TransCanada was involved with the writing of the MOPSA law.

Rod Johnson, one of the commissioners who voted to approve the KXL, said, “I fully understand that MOPSA forbids this commission from considering issues related to pipeline safety. Nonetheless, it is obvious that safety issues are of prime concern to the public regarding this pipeline. Safety was the No. 1 issue raised at the Commissioners’ four public meetings and in the many thousands of written comments we have received during this process.”

I find it quite ironic that the PSC repeatedly shut down testimony when safety or spills were even mentioned in the hearing, yet in their own final report on page 50, when explaining why they chose the Mainline Route, they write this: “We see many benefits to maximizing the co-location of the KXL with Keystone I. It is in the public interest for the pipelines to be closer in proximity to each other, so as to maximize monitoring resources and increase the efficiency of response times. This would also assist emergency responders and others that may be called on to assist with any issues that may arise with either pipeline.”

What they are clearly talking about is when the KXL spills or there is yet another spill from the Keystone I. So they can’t consider safety or spills when mentioned by the witnesses?

Listen folks, safety is a huge factor when Nebraska must decide to allow a 36” tarsand pipeline, diluted with benzene saturated diluent to cross our rivers and streams, and be buried directly above or in some cases lying directly in the Ogallala Aquifer. It is even more of a concern when we know these pipes leak.

Crystal Rhodes, PSC commissioner who voted not to approve the KXL route, went to great lengths describing how TransCanada violated due process by not notifying landowners along this new route, that the KXL would even cross their land. And that TransCanada did not provide required information that they had complied with all state statutes, regulations and local ordinances. And that TransCanada refused to supply the materials requested by the NDEQ. She confirmed in her statements that TransCanada also refuses to release the safety data sheets, needed by first responders telling them of the safety risks and dangers of the contents of their pipe … until after the pipe leaks!

Even with the 3 to 2 PSC approval vote of this new Mainline Alternative Route, there are still years of regulatory hurdles TransCanada must face along with the inevitable legal appeals.

TransCanada needs to pull the plug on the KXL, just as they did their Energy East Pipeline last month. They cited “changing circumstances” as their reason. They were right. The circumstances have changed significantly since they announced the KXL back in 2008. Oil is about one-third of the price it was back then, and America is producing all the oil it needs.

Not only did TransCanada fail to meet the burden of proof, the PSC failed in meeting their own burden of proof that this ill-fated and dangerous project serves the public interest of Nebraskans.



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