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
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