Oil pipeline protesters gather ahead of Nebraska's decision

Published: Nov. 19, 2017 at 4:35 PM CST
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More than 100 protesters gathered Sunday to speak out against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline before Nebraska regulators issue their ruling on the project. The protesters gathered on the steps of the state Capitol building in Lincoln on Sunday. The Nebraska Public Service Commission is scheduled to announce its decision on the pipeline's route on Monday.

The decision comes just days after an estimated 210,000-gallon oil spill from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota. TransCanada Corp. crews shut down its Keystone pipeline Thursday after a drop in pressure was detected from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County. The pipeline delivers oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma.

State officials say the buried pipeline leak is on agricultural land and don't believe it has polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems.

TransCanada says it expects the pipeline to remain shut down as the company responds to the leak.

Nebraska officials said Friday that the oil spill won't affect their decision to approve or deny a route for the related Keystone XL project. A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Public Service Commission said that commissioners will base their decision solely on evidence presented during public hearings and from official public comments.

A Nebraska law approved in 2011 prevents the commissioners from factoring pipeline safety or the possibility of leaks into their decisions. Lawmakers argued at the time that pipeline safety was a federal responsibility that pre-empts state law. Opponents say oil interests lobbied for the restriction.

TransCanada proposed the 1,179-mile crude oil pipeline the transport crude oil from Canada south to connect to another pipeline in southern Nebraska.

TransCanada officials have said their preferred route is the most direct way to transport oil and crosses few major bodies of water.