TransCanada Seeks Route Clarification, Not Reconsideration In Filing
A Nebraska Public Service Commission decision last week to approve the Keystone XL pipeline with an alternate route through the state prompted a motion to reconsider by TransCanada, the pipeline’s builder.
“TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP (“Keystone”) hereby requests the Public Service Commission (“Commission”) reconsider its order dated November 20, 2017. In support of this motion, Keystone asks that the Commission consider Keystone’s filing of an amended application in accordance with the findings of the Commission that the Mainline Alternative Route is in the public interest,” the company wrote in its filing.
TransCanada Terry Cunha said the motion asked for the Nebraska PSC “to address some questions that were raised by” the approval decision on November 20.
Matthew John, a spokesman for TransCanada, emphasized to Western Wire via email that the company’s motion is not a request for route reconsideration.
“We are not asking for the route to be reconsidered. We stressed that to Reuters. The motion is asking the PSC to allow TransCanada to address some questions that were raised by the November 20th PSC decision,” John wrote. “It is not an attempt by TransCanada to have the PSC alter its approval of the Alternative Mainline route.” (emphasis in original)
John said that he could not provide any additional comment at this time, saying the company was still reviewing the decision.
Meanwhile, TransCanada has already begun outreach to landowners along the newly approved route.
The Nebraska PSC gave the green light to the slightly longer alternate path, about 5 miles longer, denying the company’s preferred route through the state.
“The alternate route would involve a number of new landowners for us, and as always, we’re striving to understand their perspectives on the project,” said Dean Patry, TransCanada’s senior vice president of liquids, according to The Globe and Mail.
A final decision on whether to proceed with the Keystone XL project is expected in December. According to the Washington Times, the approval of the alternate route could add $1 to 2 billion in additional costs and legal fees.
The new route could also trigger a new environmental review by the State Department.
John told Western Wire in August that “good support” from Canadian producers underpinned Keystone XL’s prospects for completion.
TransCanada remained “very encouraged” with shipping commitments, said Russ Girling, chief executive officer, with “sufficient binding shipping commitments to advance the project.”
On November 25, Nebraska landowners filed a separate motion requesting oral arguments on TransCanada’s motion.
“On November 24, 2017 TransCanada filed a Motion to Reconsider the Commission’s November 20, 2017 Order and requesting the Commission to allow TransCanada to file an Amended Application for the approved Mainline Alternative Route. TransCanada did so because it realizes there was no mechanism to approve the Mainline Alternative Route as occurred,” the Nebraska intervenors wrote.
There is a 10 day period for TransCanada and intervenors to ask for a reconsideration of the PSC order, and a 30 day deadline for appeals to the Nebraska Court of Appeals.
Nebraska landowners and public officials along the new alternative route welcomed the new opportunity.
“People were talking about it. It was mostly guys who wanted to buy new pickups if it went across their quarter (section),” Norm Funk, a Norfolk-area farmer, told the Norfolk Daily News. Funk referenced the right-of-way payments that TransCanada would make to landowners.
According to Funk, he already farms land that is crossed by at least one pipeline “without any concerns.” Pipelines are much safer than shipping oil by truck or train, Funk told the Norfolk Daily News.
Ron Schmidt, a Madison County Board member and landowner, said that the pipeline would increase tax payments to the county.
“We knew it was a possibility, but I always kind of thought it was a remote possibility,” he said.
According to the Norfolk Daily News, neighboring Stanton County received $818,000 from TransCanada last year alone for tax payments for a pipe and pumping station.
Schmidt also supported the pipeline for another reason—keeping the country out of international conflict.
“I’d rather see our young people carrying shovels and wearing construction helmets than shouldering guns and driving tanks,” he said. Two of Schmidt’s sons served in the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Keystone XL, when built, could add nearly 25 percent capacity to Canada’s pipeline output, or 800,000 barrels per day, according to The Globe and Mail. Shipments sent by pipeline, rather than more costly rail transport, would also see higher price due to cost savings.