Posted November 20, 2017
The Nebraska Public Service Commission’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is a significant milestone for a project that would enhance crude oil delivery from Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast while also increasing U.S. energy security. Working methodically over several months, the commission gave full vent to voices on all sides of the infrastructure project before approving a route through the state for the proposed 36-inch pipeline. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:
“The Nebraska Public Service Commission set an example for how to carefully evaluate critical energy infrastructure projects, even in the face of strongly held views and opinions. It’s been a long path to today’s approval, and the commission should be commended.”
Pipeline builder TransCanada said it will review an alternative route approved by the commission. TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling:
“As a result of today'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.”
Girling refers to the commission’s decision to approve a “mainline alternative route” through Nebraska, which is slightly different than the one TransCanada proposed. Here’s a map from the Omaha World-Herald, with the commission-approved route in yellow and TransCanada’s proposed route in green:
As Gerard indicated, the immediate significance of the Nebraska decision is that it underscores the validity of using of established processes to debate, review and decide large energy infrastructure projects like Keystone XL.
Unfortunately, too much of Keystone XL’s nine-year history has been consumed by departures from established processes, especially at the federal level. Remember, Keystone XL was reviewed five times by the U.S. State Department, each basically saying the same thing – that the pipeline would generate jobs, economic growth and tax revenues for governments without significantly impacting the environment. That would include 42,000 jobs during the project’s construction and $55 million in property tax revenue in the pipeline’s first year of operation. Gerard:
“[The commission’s] action allows the Keystone XL pipeline to be built by highly-trained, skilled tradesmen using state-of-the-art technologies aimed at protecting the environment and promoting the safety of our communities. Pipelines such as this enhance our ability to safely deliver North American energy to our world class refineries, which in turn provide the fuels and products we all rely on every day.”
As Gerard said, it has been a long path for Keystone XL. It’s one that should convince policymakers at all levels that no future energy infrastructure project should be treated that way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.