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Application breathes life into Keystone XL in NE

Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-16 19:28:03-05
The push for the Keystone XL Pipeline to wind through Nebraska reignites.
 
The developer is, once again, asking for the state's approval of the project.     
 
TransCanada has filed an application with the state public service commission, seeking approval for roughly 275 miles of the pipeline to be constructed north and east of the Sand Hills. 
 
If approved, the pipeline would run from Canada through states including Nebraska and link with the existing Keystone Pipeline, carrying crude oil to gulf coast refineries in Texas.
 
President Obama rejected the project in late 2015.
 
While TransCanada says this is a big step towards building the massive pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, a lawyer, who has represented land owners in the path of construction, says if the pipeline is approved lawsuits filed against the Canadian oil company would likely resume. 
 
TransCanada says construction of the pipeline would generate jobs in Nebraska.
 
"We'll be seeking offering employment to thousands of Nebraskans during the construction season, which will also provide increased tax benefits to each of the counties in which this project will be crossing," said Terry Cunha, TransCanada spokesman. 
 
TransCanada is hopeful that momentum from President Donald Trump's executive order, authorizing construction, will continue and they'll make it through extensive criteria set by the Nebraska Public Commission, including a seven to 12 month review.
 
(transcanada phone interview)
"The focus has and continues to be on working with Nebraskans and I've believe we've been able to demonstrate operating in Nebraska now for several years," Cunha said.
 
Domina Law Group Managing Attorney Brian Jorde disagrees and says he doesn't see how a pipeline through Nebraska will benefit the state.
 
"How is this in our interest at all?” Jorde asked. “They're response is going to be, 'well, we're going to pay taxes,' well so does everyone in the state already. That's just following the law. That's not something that's in our interest.”
 
Jorde filed 59 lawsuits against TransCanada the last time the company tried to use eminent domain to take control of land. 
 
He says risks of the project outweigh the benefits.
 
"The temporary construction jobs, of course we would like those,” Jorde said. “You weigh the risk analysis and a lifetime of potential risk, for water to our land, which is our tax base in the state. You simply cannot find that this is in the public interest."
 
Americans for Prosperity released a statement Thursday afternoon in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline: 
 
"AFP encourages the Nebraska Public Commission to quickly review and approve the request to begin construction the pipeline, which will undoubtedly increase job opportunities.”