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Keystone pipeline developer plans to sue to get construction permit in Nebraska county

Keystone pipeline developer plans to sue to get construction permit in Nebraska county


LINCOLN — The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline is planning to go to court to obtain a construction permit from a rural Nebraska county.

A company spokeswoman made the comment after the five-member Holt County Board of Adjustment voted Thursday afternoon to deny a permit to TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, until the pipeline company agreed to comply with 19 conditions.

The conditions included the establishment of an escrow account to cover any clean-up costs from possible future pipeline leaks and pay for the removal of the pipeline and reclamation of the land. The board also wanted TC Energy to bypass any fields that had underground drainage tiles and provide additional tests to detect any slow leaks from the crude oil pipeline.

Robynn Tysver, a spokeswoman for TC Energy, said the company planned to go to court to obtain a pipeline construction permit, “which will unfortunately cost the county significant time and resources.”

“A vote in our favor would have cleared the way for our crews to improve many of the county’s roads, as well as fund a large portion of the cost to replace the Stuart-Naper Bridge,” Tysver said.

The vote Thursday was the latest development in TC Energy’s attempt to comply with zoning rules in the north-central Nebraska county. The county’s planning board and board of supervisors had previously denied a permit to TC Energy, stating that they wanted to wait until eminent domain proceedings were completed and until the company could identify where the pipeline might impact underground drainage tiles in fields.

The county Board of Adjustment, which handles appeals of such matters, held a public hearing last week in O’Neill on the issue and then postponed a decision until the meeting on Thursday.

Last week, an attorney for TC Energy testified that all legal proceedings had been completed but that some landowners had refused to disclose where drainage tiles were located. Opponents of the pipeline, meanwhile, urged the Board of Adjustment to reject the permit.

The Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed more than a decade ago and had been blocked by President Barack Obama until Donald Trump took office in 2016. If Joe Biden is elected, he has pledged to again block construction of the pipeline, which would carry thick crude oil, processed from Canada’s tar sands region, to oil refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

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Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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