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Keystone XL at the Nebraska Public Service Commission: How You Can Be Involved

no permit_no pipeline

As we’ve described in an earlier post, TransCanada’s attempt to now go through the Public Service Commission (PSC) to have the route for Keystone XL reviewed is not only a Hail Mary, it might also be legally impossible.

We want to give you some background first on the PSC process as well as the landowners’ lawsuit against TransCanada.

Below are clear instructions on how you can apply to be an intervenor, or submit public comment on TransCanada’s application to build Keystone XL through Nebraska at the Public Service Commission.

Background
The law, LB 1161, that provided two paths for a pipeline company to get their route reviewed clearly states that a company must choose either the Governor’s office or the PSC process. Not both.

TransCanada chose the Governor’s office, which gave them a permit for a risky route still crossing the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer. Even the PSC Executive Director made it clear to the press that while they have opened a formal docket for TransCanada’s application, they are not sure they legally can review it.

To further complicate things, by first choosing the Governor’s office for their route review, TransCanada also got handed a lawsuit from over 100 landowners arguing LB 1161 actually violates the state constitution by allowing a pipeline company to bypass the PSC (which our state constitution says has power over pipelines) and further gives the power of eminent domain to the Governor without due process. The court case is in the hands of a Holt County judge, despite TransCanada trying to get the case dismissed.

And of course, if President Obama rejects the pipeline permit at the federal level, TransCanada’s application in front of the PSC becomes a moot point since there will be no pipeline project on the books to review. Some expect the President to reject the pipeline before the end of 2015.

Ponca Corn Harvest 009

Jane Kleeb with landowners, citizens and native allies at the second Ponca Harvest

With all of that background, in the last 6 years of this fight, we never take anything for granted. We are always prepared for plans B, C, D and well, you get the point. Which is why it is critical for everyone to know how they can participate in the PSC process.

Keystone XL at the Nebraska Public Service Commission
As a citizen, you can participate in the PSC process in three main ways–as an intervenor, submit written comment and/or attend hearing in person.

1) File a formal protestor or file as a formal intervenor

If you choose this option, you must download, print and complete this form and mail it in with your signature. It must be received by the PSC by Nov. 9, so we strongly suggest you submit the letter via “snail mail” by Nov. 5th as well as email a copy to jeff.pursley@nebraska.gov. You must also send a copy to TransCanada, per the PSC rules, since they are a party in the case.

Mailing address:
Nebraska Public Service Commission
300 The Atrium Building
1200 N Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP
Attn: James G. Powers and Patrick D. Pepper
First National Tower, Suite 3700
1601 Dodge Street
Omaha, NE 68102 

Serving as a formal intervenor or protestor without hiring legal representation will require some legal knowledge, and a large investment of time.

You will be able to call expert witnesses, cross examine witnesses, provide evidence and more. Many citizens did this in the South Dakota PUC process and Bold will have an expert that can assist you as a citizen to go through the process if you want to choose this option.

While the PSC uses the language of protestor and intervenor, they both signify that you will be submitting evidence and cross-examining witnesses. Please let mark@boldnebraska.org know if you will be filing as formal intervenor.

The PSC also describes this process on their website, we used the information to create this handy form you can use to file as an intervenor.

2) Submit public written comment 
As with all the hearings we have all been engaged in over the years, submitting written comments from Nebraskans and allies from all over the country (and in Canada and elsewhere!) is very much needed to show continued public interest and concern.

The PSC is accepting public comment now on TransCanada’s application. We suggest your comments at this point be focused on the simple fact that TransCanada’s application should not be reviewed, given the language of LB 1161 that prohibits using two application processes simultaneously — along with your concerns around the route, risks to water, wildlife impact, cultural resources, and all the issues that you want to bring the attention of the PSC members.

You can email a copy of your comments to jeff.pursley@nebraska.gov, please cc mark@boldnebraska.org so we can track comments.

Mailing address:
Nebraska Public Service Commission
300 The Atrium Building
1200 N Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

3) Attend hearings and give public comment
We do not have the dates yet for the first public hearing on TransCanada’s application in front of the PSC. Once we do we will post this information here and on our Facebook page.

You can attend the hearings as a citizen and give public comment. You do NOT have to be a formal intervenor to give public comment. You can think of how we gave public comment at State Department hearings, DEQ hearings or hearings hosted at the Unicameral. When you give public comment you are not cross-examined and other legal process which happens as a formal intervenor.

Other Information

Ponca Corn Harvest 189

Landowners, citizens, native allies, students at the second Ponca Corn Harvest

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