Quantcast
Popular

Critical Keystone XL Testimony Denied in Last-Minute Decision

The Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC)—the Republican-dominated state board deciding the fate of TransCanada's long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline—have barred experts and homeowners from testifying over potential spills or whether the tar sands pipeline is even necessary during final hearings next week.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that former Lancaster County District Judge Karen Flowers, who was hired by NPSC to conduct the hearings, issued more than 30 rulings based on objections filed by TransCanada.


She ruled that issues such as safety or if the U.S. even needs Canadian oil are out of the commission's scope of authority.

"The (Nebraska Major Oil Pipeline) Siting Act specifically prohibits the commission from considering safety considerations, including the risk of spills and leaks," Flowers wrote in her ruling.

Nebraska law requires the NPSC to approve a pipeline construction application if it is "in the public interest." The commission—made up of four Republicans and one Democrat—will mainly consider issues that impact the local economy such as jobs and revenues.

Pipeline opponent Oil Change International spoke out against the hearing officer's ruling, as it bars the testimony of 15 outside experts and more than 25 landowners.

For instance, the decision barred the planned testimony of Lorne Stockman, senior research analyst at Oil Change International. Stockman's testimony, which was submitted ahead of the hearings and thus part of the official record, would have stressed how changing market conditions and realities in the tar sands industry negates the need for Keystone XL pipeline.

"There is simply no need for the Keystone XL pipeline based on the current market conditions, which even TransCanada has admitted," he said, noting recent statements by TransCanada representatives who have cast doubt in finding sufficient shippers to fill the pipeline.

"Those conditions," Lockman continued, "include an end to growth in the tar sands sector and stagnant global oil demand, headwinds that look set to end the reckless proliferation of tar sands pipelines. Given all of the risks to Nebraskans inherent in the building and operation of this pipeline, the fact that there's no compelling need to build it should be a critical element of the commission's deliberations."

"My testimony exposes that the Keystone XL pipeline is not only a disaster for our climate and communities, but also that TransCanada has no business case to it to be built in the first place. It's no wonder they don't want me to testify," Lockman concluded.

Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb, a prominent critic of the Keystone XL project, said legal action against the NPSC's decision to bar expert and landowner testimonies could be necessary.

"They're headed for a very tough court fight," Kleeb told the World-Herald.

A recent Bloomberg report highlighted how during the hearings, Keystone opponents will focus on the issue of eminent domain, which Republicans traditionally oppose in favor of landowner property rights. Keystone proponents, meanwhile, will focus on job creation, which the GOP also supports.

TransCanada's proposed pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S. daily.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals
White-tailed deer flee in a nighttime photograph. George Shiras

People Are So Annoying That Animals Are Becoming More Nocturnal

By Jason Bittel

It's official: Animals around the world are sick of our sh . . . enanigans.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Garlic mustard flower. Gary J. Wood / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Edible Weeds Likely Growing in Your Yard

By Brian Barth

You work so hard on your vegetable garden, primping and pruning to the point of exhaustion each spring. One of the biggest chores, of course, is weeding. But in doing so, you might be throwing away valuable produce.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pixabay

If Meditation Is Not Your Thing, Try a Walk in the Woods

By Karin Klein

There are times when I don't know what to do with myself. I feel at odds with the world, irritated by the people in it, in a funk about myself and what I'm achieving or, rather, not achieving, overwhelmed by the obstacles and complications of life. Happiness seems like an entirely elusive state of being.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Bill Hinton / Getty Images

Fake Grassroots Campaigns Deserve Uprooting

AstroTurf looks and feels like grass—in an all-too-perfect way. But it's not grass.

Now the well-known artificial turf's brand name has taken on a new meaning, referring to purported "grassroots" efforts that are actually funded and supported by industry and political entities.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A photo posted by Hard to Port shows an Icelandic company having killed what some say is an endangered blue whale. Hard to Port / Facebook

Some Experts Say Icelandic Whaling Company Killed an Endangered Blue Whale

Anti-whaling group Hard to Port posted photos on their Facebook page Tuesday that activist group Sea Shepherd claims show an endangered blue whale recently killed by an Icelandic whaling company, the Australian ABC News reported Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health

Kentucky Law Could Restrict Health Care for Miners Suffering From Black Lung Disease

A Kentucky law that goes into effect Saturday could make it more difficult for miners suffering from black lung to claim federal benefits, Vice News reports.

The law mandates that only five of Kentucky's 11 pulmonologists, or lung experts, may examine miners' X-rays in benefit claims.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Yannick Croissant / CC BY 2.0

Sorry AC/DC, Rock and Roll Is Noise Pollution

By John R. Platt

It's a rare scientific paper that cites both biologist E.O. Wilson and AC/DC guitarist Angus Young.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!