Keystone pipeline leak will not have an effect on final regulatory hurdle

LINCOLN, Neb. – Discovery of a 210,000-gallon oil leak from the Keystone pipeline would appear to be poor timing 4 days earlier than regulators in Nebraska determine whether or not to permit a significant enlargement of the system, however officers say state legislation doesn’t enable pipeline security to be an element of their determination.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission was scheduled to rule Monday if a Keystone XL enlargement pipeline proposed by TransCanada Corp. can cross the state. The fee’s determination is the final main regulatory hurdle for a mission that has confronted quite a few native, state and federal critiques and lawsuits because it was introduced in 2008.

Keystone operator TransCanada Corp. shut down the present pipeline early Thursday morning and employees have been testing to find out the reason for the spill on agricultural land in Marshall County, South Dakota, close to the North Dakota border, about 250 miles (402 kilometers) west of Minneapolis.

State and firm officers mentioned the spill was not a menace to waterways or consuming water, however critics have been fast to make use of the leak for instance of what they see because the dangers to the surroundings.

The Nebraska vote Monday shall be on a proposed route for Keystone XL, an enormous enlargement that additionally could be operated by TransCanada. The new pipeline would carry an estimated 830,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil sands areas of Canada by means of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, the place it could join with the present Keystone pipeline.

The determination will hinge on testimony and paperwork generated from public hearings over the summer time and from greater than 500,000 public feedback, Nebraska Public Service Commission spokeswoman Deb Collins mentioned. A state legislation handed in 2011 prevents the fee from factoring pipeline security or the potential of leaks into its selections.

“The commission’s decision … will be based on the evidence in the record,” Collins mentioned.

The Keystone XL proposal has confronted intense opposition in Nebraska from a coalition of environmental teams, Native American tribes and a few landowners who don’t desire the pipeline operating by means of their property.

Nebraska lawmakers gave the five-member fee the facility to manage main oil pipelines in 2011 in response to a public outcry over the pipeline and its potential affect on the Sandhills, an ecologically fragile area of grbad-covered sand dunes.

But after they handed the legislation, legislators argued that pipeline security is a federal accountability and mustn’t issue within the state determination.

Opponents of Keystone XL are incensed that the leak will not be thought of.

“There is a reason TransCanada and the big oil lobby did not want this information on the record,” mentioned Jane Kleeb, director of the Bold Alliance, a coalition of teams which have opposed the Keystone XL for almost a decade.

President Donald Trump issued a federal allow for the enlargement mission in March though it had been rejected by the Obama administration.

The current Keystone pipeline, the place the leak was found, transports crude from Canada to refineries in Illinois and a significant storage hub in Oklahoma, pbading by means of the jap Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. It can deal with almost 600,000 barrels every day, or about 23 million gallons.

Since 2010, firms have reported 17 spills of oil or petroleum merchandise within the U.S. the identical dimension or bigger than the leak introduced Thursday, in line with U.S. Department of Transportation data.

Officials in South Dakota mentioned they weren’t notified in regards to the leak till roughly 5 hours after TransCanada found it. Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist supervisor on the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, mentioned officers would seemingly inquire in regards to the delay however have been focusing instantly on the spill.

TransCanada mentioned Friday the leak was managed and posed no menace to public security. The firm has despatched greater than 75 employees to the spill web site, together with environmental, engineering and emergency response specialists.

TransCanada spokesman Matthew John mentioned the corporate might want to do “extensive testing” together with federal regulators and unbiased testing amenities earlier than they will pinpoint a trigger.

An aerial photograph launched by TransCanada on Twitter that the corporate says is of the spill, exhibits a darkened space on flat agricultural land. There don’t look like any waterways or cities close by.

Residents close to the location reported a surge of exercise as cleanup crews arrived on the scene.

Suzie Easthouse, basic supervisor on the Front Porch in Langford, a metropolis southeast of the spill space, mentioned the restaurant shall be catering for TransCanada employees on the web site. Easthouse mentioned she’s serving Friday supper and a middle-of-the-night shift meal for 80 individuals, with meals for 100 individuals on Saturday.

“I’m pretty much going to be working a 24-hour shift here now,” Easthouse mentioned.

Easthouse mentioned she has combined feelings in regards to the pipeline, a tug between the enterprise it has delivered to the world and her environmental considerations. She thinks the spill could have lasting results within the space.

“It’s almost like everybody’s fears have come true with it,” Easthouse mentioned. “It’s not the notoriety we really want in small town South Dakota.”


This model of the story corrects that there have been 17 leaks the identical dimension or bigger than the Keystone spill as a substitute of 17 bigger than this spill. One of the spills was the identical dimension.


Nord contributed from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Associated Press reporter Matt Brown in Billings, Montana, additionally contributed to this story.

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