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TransCanada to test water in drainage ditch near Keystone pipeline spill

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TransCanada to test water in drainage ditch near Keystone pipeline spill

For nearly ten years, TransCanada has lobbied, threatened, and agitated for their Keystone pipeline system, and have built about two-thirds of it - the first stage of this system spilled at least 5,000 barrels in South Dakota last week. "The economics are already stacked against this project and it's just a matter of time before the last few backers pull out leaving TransCanada all alone".

Still, many opponents of the pipeline were present and spoke out about the ruling, and a number of University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism students were on hand to capture various moments in 360-degree video. The route approved Monday may also add costs and further delays to the project aimed at carrying 800,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta to USA refineries on the Gulf Coast. However, he still has 40-percent of his landowner clients effected by the alternate route.

The commission, however, was prohibited from evaluating safety considerations, including risk or impact of a spill, and ruled instead on issues including regulatory compliance, economic and social impacts of the project, the potential intrusion on natural resources, and whether better routes exist.

Environmental groups have long battled against the proposed tar sands project, over fears it would lock indecades of increased climate pollution. The current pipeline runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and extends east into Missouri and IL. However, within days after being sworn in earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum to restart the application process.

On Monday, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline route across Nebraska was approved by the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

The State Department is looking at the decision to see if it will have to issue a new environmental impact study.

"All new pipelines from Alberta, including Kinder Morgan's expansion project to the B.C. coast, Enbridge's line 9 to the east, or the Keystone XL going south the US, mean more Alberta bitumen extraction, which represents one of the most polluting sources of fossil fuel production in the world", declared Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). Omaha Attorney Brian Jorde who represents landowners opposing the pipeline says he's pleased the panel turned down the proposed route.

Former TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Hal Kvisle doesn't think regulators appreciate how hard it is to reroute a pipeline plan. Approval of the route gives TransCanada the ability to seize the land of holdout landowners through eminent domain.

McConaghy said he believes the company has secured the volume needed to make the project economically viable. It then runs south through South Dakota to Steele City, Neb., where it splits.

Ongoing legal challenges to the project, and the change of route in Nebraska could add further complications.

The Public Service Commission is composed of four Republicans and one Democrat, all directly elected by district. He urged the commission to reject the project, contending TransCanada's lawyers hadn't met their burden of proof. But under Nebraska law, the state Public Service Commission is not allowed to consider pipeline safety and spill risks when deciding on a permit. Some landowners in attendance found out that their land would no longer be on the pipeline route, while others learned that a path through their property had been approved.

It remains uncertain whether TransCanada has lined up enough customers to go forward with the Keystone XL project, proposed in 2008 at a peak in oil prices, which have since fallen by more than half. Supporters of the pipeline say it provides crucial jobs wherever it stretches, while critics have charged that extending the pipeline increases the risk of environmental disasters like the oil spill on November 16.

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