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Nebraska Regulators Block Argument About the Need of Oil in Keystone XL Hearings

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission recently ruled that opponents of the Keystone XL Pipeline will not be permitted to use the argument that the United States does not need the oil in final hearings this week.

The five-member panel of regulators will hold their hearings from August 7th through the 11th, before they decide whether or not to approve the pipeline’s construction. A judge notified about 25 of the landowners opposing the pipeline that some of their pre-written testimony will be edited to exclude arguments about a limited market need for the pipeline.

Attorneys representing TransCanada objected to the inclusion of these arguments (PDF), and told the commission it was beyond the scope of its consideration.

"The Siting Act deals exclusively with the route of the proposed KXL pipeline and does not direct or permit the commission to conduct a need and necessity analysis. The decision regarding need and necessity for an interstate pipeline is not within the purview of a state Commission, but is a Federal decision… [T]he specific energy needs of the State of Nebraska is outside the scope of the Sitting Act.”

The opponents of the pipeline had hoped to use the argument after Paul Miller, the Executive Vice President of TransCanada informed investors that the company was still deciding whether or not to build the pipeline based on the results of “an assessment of commercial support.”

"If there is no demand for this route and investors are uninterested, it is not in the public interest," said Brian Jorde, one of the attorneys representing the 90 or so landowners opposed to the construction.

The commission will weigh whether or not the pipeline is in the public interest of residents in the state, with their primary focus being on things like potential revenue and jobs it will create. No environmental issues will be considered because the set route for the pipeline already secured an environmental permit.

After the current United States president gave the Keystone XL Pipeline federal approval earlier this year, he stated that the project would create 28,000 jobs across the nation – in fact, a study conducted by the State Department in 2014 estimated that the project would create about 3,9000 construction jobs and only 35 permanent jobs once the pipeline is completed.

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