Anti-Oil Activist Testimony Barred From Keystone Pipeline Hearing

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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One of the regulatory agencies that could determine Keystone XL Pipeline’s fate has excluded several testimonials from anti-oil activists opposed to the multi-billion-dollar project for an upcoming hearing.

Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) told activist Lorne Stockman that his testimony for an August 7 hearing discussing the project has been excluded. PSC’s decision comes after the project’s builder, TransCanada, made legal challenges to Stockman’s testimony.

A Nebraska PSC hearing officer ruled August 2 that testimony from Stockman, Nebraska landowners, and various activist groups will be excluded from the hearing because their concerns are beyond the scope of the regulatory agency, according to a press statement Friday from Oil Change International, a group that determines the cost to the U.S. of producing fossil fuels.

“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,” Stockman, an analyst with the group, wrote in the statement.

Current market conditions prevent any need for Keystone, Stockman said, adding that the rock bottom drop in the price of oil, and the low growth of Canada’s tar sand pits suggest the need for future oil projects are unnecessary.

The nearly 1,700-mile-long project is expected to carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, and with crude at $53 per barrel, potentially yield taxpayers $1.6 billion a year. Market conditions have changed.

Oil prices are lower today than they were in 2009 when the pipeline was first proposed. Prices hovered around $130 a barrel at the time, which meant that demand from oil producers and refineries for the pipeline was high. A barrel of oil today sells for about $45.

Stockman also argued that TransCanada believes the project should not go forward, but the company never suggested the pipeline is not needed. TransCanada’s decision would be based on what the PSC’s ruling and market conditions, the company’s Executive Vice President Paul Miller said in a conference call after the release of quarterly result

“Our assessment of these factors will really drive our investment decision when we get into that November-December time frame,” he said. Much of the decision hinges on what elected officials on the PSC decide about various aspects of the pipeline route in Nebraska.

PSC did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for the publication of this article.

Activists have been pressuring the commission to reject the project. Commission members engaged in a grueling 10-hour meeting earlier this year with more than 120 activists and ranchers over the controversial pipeline.

The PSC will rule later whether to approve or reject the proposed route across Nebraska.

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