KXL Hearing Ends, One Day Early

A group of environmental groups and landowners gather outside the Nebraska Public Service Commission office before delivering comments. (Photo by Ariana Brocious, NET News)
August 10, 2017 - 5:30pm

The Keystone XL hearing ended Thursday morning, one day earlier than scheduled.

Thursday morning’s brief cross-examination of a couple TransCanada witnesses focused mostly on whether or not the company had adequately evaluated cultural resources, like the Ponca Trail of Tears, on the pipeline route.

Yankton-Sioux lawyer Jennifer Baker expressed some of the same concerns after the hearing.

"They have not included tribal experts in all of their surveys. Tribal experts have not just have the qualifications that the archaeologist may have but they also have that unique knowledge, historical knowledge, spiritual knowledge that a non-native archeologist just doesn’t have, so they’re not going to find everything a tribal member would find," Baker said.

Baker also said they were frustrated that tribes were limited to only one witness each.

After the hearing adjourned, all parties declined to speculate on the final outcome, but said appeals are likely.

Despite reports that the company may not build the pipeline, TransCanada spokesman Matthew John said they’re continuing to work on getting long-term contracts in place.

"And we are making very good progress on that, and we’re absolutely committed to making this project a reality," John said.

Dave Domina, the lawyer representing landowners, said one finding from the hearing was the fact that TransCanada could move or change the pipeline route.

"The people of Nebraska and the commission have been told for quite a while that this preferred route can’t move because of the South Dakota action. But their chief engineer admitted that’s not true. So they could use the other route, the existing pipeline route. They simply don’t prefer it, so that’s a big deal," Domina said.

Jane Kleeb of Bold Alliance reiterated her group’s opposition to the pipeline, saying it threatens Nebraska water resources and property rights.

"We are not going to let an inch of foreign steel to touch Nebraska soil. We are ready to fight no matter what decision comes down," Kleeb said. She also indicated there may be nonviolent civil disobedience in the event the pipeline is approved. Prior to the hearing, her group, along with others including the Sierra Club, 350.org, and Oil Change International, hand-delivered more than 461,000 public comments to the Nebraska Public Service Commission, urging them to reject the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

All sides will submit their closing arguments in writing by the end of September, at which point the Public Service Commission will complete the massive job of reviewing the extensive testimony and evidence to make its decision by November 23rd.

The public comment period will remain open until 5 PM Friday, August 11.



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