TransCanada has officially filed an application with the Public Service Commission to review the 275-mile Keystone XL route through Nebraska and offered alternative routes.
Last week the company announced it was pulling out of a lawsuit against more than 100 Nebraska landowners over eminent domain. However, a decision has not yet been made legally on the suit and is expected to be announced in Holt County on Oct. 19.
"We expected them to go through the public service commission, which is what they should have done back in the beginning," said Art Tanderup of Neligh, who owns land along the current route and is involved in the lawsuit against TransCanada.
According to a TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper, the Public Service Commission will be the faster and clearer option for route approval. However, that decision can be appealed.
While TransCanada’s 30-inch Keystone Pipeline is presently under construction, the company is now proposing to construct a second pipeline, the 36-inch Keystone XL that will cover 1,661 miles from Alberta through Nebraska and other Great Plain states. There has been opposition to the project because the route will cut across sensitive parts of Nebraska – the Sandhills and Niobrara River Valley.
TransCanada still needs a permit from President Barrack Obama before it can build the pipeline across the United States-Canadian border. TransCanada has stopped forcing easements on 60 properties belonging to Nebraskans who refuse to let the company build across their land. They now say they have reached a voluntary easement agreement with 91 percent of landowners for the Keystone XL.
"We hope they realize this is something they need to look at trying to do with some clean energy. I really think the president is going to reject this and hopefully very soon, and that will stop all of these processes from moving forward," Tanderup said.
According to the application from TransCanada, the preferred route will be in proximity to four wind farm facilities that are either existing or under development:
In regard to NPPD transmission lines (Antelope and Knox Counties) and the Cowboy Trail (Rock, Holt, Antelope Counties), the application states the following:
Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) transmission line (Knox and Antelope counties): Co-location options between the Niobrara and Elkhorn Rivers up to 22.5 miles in length were evaluated along this NPPD 345 KV transmission line in Knox and Antelope Counties.
A significant portion of the segment considered for co-location in Knox County was found to be less preferable from a constructability standpoint due to large hills, side slopes and unstable soils which would require routing away from the existing transmission line infrastructure. The segment considered for co-location in Antelope County was found to present a reasonable option for pipeline construction.
However, the cross country pipeline route options approaching this transmission line from the northwest via Holt County were found to be less preferable from a constructability standpoint due to their proximity to the Niobrara River to the north resulting in:
Cowboy Trail (Rock, Holt and Antelope counties): Keystone examined the use of the Cowboy Trail in Rock, Holt, and Antelope counties as a potential pipeline corridor and found it to be incompatible with the Keystone’s goals and objectives for reasons inclusive of the following:
News Channel Nebraska contributed to this story.