Questions about TransCanada's plans dominate Keystone XL hearing

Lawyers (left) and PSC members (right) ready for hearing Monday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)
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August 7, 2017 - 7:22pm

Hearings on the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline route through Nebraska got underway Monday. Representatives of TransCanada testified on a range of topics and were closely questioned by lawyers representing landowners opposing the project.



The hearing took place in a mostly-empty ballroom at the Cornhusker Hotel in downtown Lincoln, with a contingent of state troopers keeping a watchful eye. Most of the morning was spent with Dave Domina, a lawyer for landowners who oppose the pipeline, questioning  TransCanada executive Tony Palmer. Among the subjects Domina touched on was TransCanada’s statement July 28 that a final decision on whether or not to build the pipeline wouldn’t be made til later this year. “So it is clear then that the final investment decision has not been made as of this date, correct?” Domina asked. “That’s correct, sir,” Palmer replied. “So we are premature at passing on this application, aren’t we?” Domina continued. “No, sir,” Palmer countered.

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After Domina finished, and after a lunch break, TransCanada lawyer Jim Powers gave Palmer another shot at the question. This time, Palmer talked about billions of dollars TransCanada has already spent pursuing the project, adding “We are highly committed to this project. We’ve sought it for nine years. And we need approval from this commission if we’re to advance the project to …construction.”

TransCanada officials also said they would not switch the purpose of the pipeline to transport water, as opponents fear, that they would not apply for Nebraska Advantage tax incentives that would reduce revenues from the project, and that they had no plans to sell the route to another company. They also said they did not know how much it would cost to remove the pipe once its useful life was over, adding that they might just stabilize it and leave it in the ground.

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