Public Service Commission approves Keystone XL Pipeline

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) - The Public Service Commission approved the Keystone XL Pipeline with a 3-2 vote Monday.

The vote helps the the controversial TransCanada pipeline clear a major hurdle. 

The pipeline, however, will not be on its preferred route. Instead, it will be on the mainline alternative route. It's about 63 miles east of the route TransCanada wanted. 

The XL would join up and run parallel to the existing Keystone Pipeline at Stanton County. 

With the new route, Keya Paha, Holt, Boyd, Antelope, Madison, Stanton, Platte, Colfax, Butler, Seward and Saline counties are in the pipeline's path. Keya Paha, Holt, Boyd and Antelope counties were all on the preferred route. 

Boone, Nance, Polk, York and Filmore counties are no longer in the pipeline's path. 

"I’m extremely disappointed in the decision the route still runs through the most porous and sandy soils in the Eastern Sandhills and right over the Ogallala aquifer in the most dangerous areas and this thing is still running," said landowner Art Tanderup. 

Public Service Commissioner Crystal Rhoades voted 'no' saying she didn't feel TransCanada provided enough evidence for the economic benefits, the potential damage to ragile soil and because this route wasn't fully studied, "The evidence that given to the commission was all focused on the preferred route," said Rhoades. 

There's about 40 landowners according to Rhoades in this route who don't know they are in the pipeline's path, "There are several counties where there are landowners who have no idea that they are going to be in the path of this pipeline and that's a huge concern for me."

TransCanada said it is evaluating the PSC's decision: "We will conduct a careful review of the Public Service Commission's ruling while assessing how the decision would impact the cost and schedule of the project," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer.

Apart from Keystone XL, TransCanada said it will continue to advance its $24 billion near-term capital program in addition to other longer-term opportunities. TransCanada's portfolio of high quality projects is expected to generate growth in earnings and cash flow to support an expected annual dividend growth rate at the upper end of an 8-10 percent range through 2020.

Opponents of the projects plan to challenge the $8 billion pipeline in the judicial system and TransCanada will determine in December if the project is feasible financially. 

Tim Schram of Gretna, Frank Landis of Lincoln and Rod Johnson of Sutton voted yes, while Crystal Rhoades of Omaha and Mary Ridder of Callaway voted no. Rhoades gave a written dissent before the vote was announced. 

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