Keystone XL pipeline enters final review

4/19/2017

With the last remaining hurdle removed from the Dakota Access Pipeline, environmental activists have fixated their attention on the last procedural step to free completion of the final 275-mile section of the Keystone XL pipeline project, sited across Nebraska.

Nebraska became ground zero for pro- and anti-energy development interests during the Obama years. Obama was happy to politicize Keystone as a way to deliver on his promises to the environmental lobby, a central ally in his re-election. At the 11th hour, as TransCanada and the government of Canada grew impatient, Obama chose to stall the project by not advancing the State Department’s permit. This occurred after one of the nation’s most expensive and exhaustive environmental reviews and permitting processes satisfied every test required.

Obama’s political gambit backfired, and in the process his party alienated trade unions who stood to benefit from good jobs up and down the construction, transportation and supply chain. He grossly misjudged the American people’s favorable view of domestic energy development and national security. In the process, the nation’s best trading partner and good neighbor to the north was summarily snubbed.

President Trump has signed off on TransCanada’s revitalized federal permit. In the coming months the Nebraska Public Service Commission will review and make final approval of the route for the $8 million underground pipeline.

The commission will allow special interest groups such as Bold Alliance, the Sierra Club, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and landowners to testify as intervenors in the case. Intervenors can write legal briefs, cross-examine witnesses and present formal arguments in the same court as pipeline developer TransCanada’s attorneys. Testimony must be strictly limited to issues outlined by state law. According to the commission, tribes can only focus on the project’s social and cultural impact, and environmental groups can only make arguments about the project’s impact on soil, plant life and other natural resources.

The federal government paid $1.1 million to remove 835 bins of trash and debris from protest sites in North Dakota in the vulnerable watershed of Lake Oahe, the source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux. So much for being good stewards of the environment.

Now that the contentious flashpoint over Dakota Access in North Dakota is over, the green movement has once again shifted national attention to Keystone in Nebraska.

Already, 80,000 nearly identical emails from the same location have flooded the commission’s servers. This is a common tactic of activists’ playbook and a thinly veiled attempt to bias public perception.

The green movement has certainly produced many lasting, beneficial achievements over the past 50 years. It is sad to see the shift to property destruction, violence and hollow arguments to advance interests that are detrimental to the stability of the country and burdensome to working families.

The Keystone XL pipeline will stand as a safe, efficient link in America’s burgeoning energy industry and a bond that will further strengthen the ties between two of the world’s strongest free-market economies. The commission must make a decision on the pipeline by Sept. 14

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