Nebraska regulators opened a final hearing on TransCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline yesterday, a week long proceeding that marks the last big hurdle for the project after President Donald Trump approved it in March.
The proposed 1179 mile (1897 km) pipeline linking Canada’s Alberta oilsands to US refineries meets its final hurdle in Nebraska this week.
Trump's administration granted TransCanada a federal permit for the pipeline in March, reversing a decision by former President Barack Obama to reject the project on environmental grounds. But the pipeline still needs a nod from regulators in Nebraska – which would be the last of three states to approve its proposed path into the heartland.
A lawyer for opponents of the line opened the hearing in front of the five member Nebraska Public Service Commission on Monday morning by grilling an executive for the Canadian company about how the pipeline will be disposed of after its anticipated 50 year lifetime.
Witnesses testifying on behalf of pipeline developer TransCanada spent the day defending the adequacy of its application for the 275 mile route across Nebraska and even the accuracy of its projections that the US$8 billion project would generate 4000 construction jobs and millions of dollars of additional property taxes.
On Sunday, hundreds of pipeline opponents, including members or Indian tribes, marched through downtown Lincoln under police escort, following a rally at the Nebraska Capitol.
Nebraska’s Public Service Commission will weigh whether the project is in the state’s public interest, and will announce a decision by November.
Environmental and indigenous groups have mounted an extensive campaign to lobby the commission to reject the pipeline.
But the commission will not be considering the environmental effects of the pipeline. The commission will consider only if the pipeline is in the state's public interest.
The commission is not permitted to consider the risk of spills because the route already has an environmental permit.
The state commission is expected to make a decision by November. The deadline for comments is Friday.
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