Anti-energy left will try to drive up cost of Keystone XL with frivolous litigation
When is a win not a win?As with most environmentalist delays, the lawyers are the big winners as they drive up legal fees for both sides. I don't think much of their "due process" claim. They can get that in the eminent domain proceedings for buying the land in the pipeline right of way.
When it promises to open up fertile new areas of potential litigation. That's the view of Keystone XL's opponents after Nebraska regulators approved the project's construction there, but mandated that it follow an alternative route to TransCanada Corp.'s preferred path.
Because the new route wasn't vetted at the same level as the original, foes believe it will let them challenge the project in ways they couldn't before, further delaying construction that's been on the drawing boards since 2008.
RELATED: Nebraska commission approves Keystone XL
It is "an incredible victory," said Brian Jorde, an attorney for landowners who have opposed the project for seven years, in a telephone interview. The regulators approved a route the company said was inferior, according to Jorde. "They won nothing," he said.
The Nebraska Public Service Commission approved TransCanada's project on a three-to-two vote, removing one of the last hurdles to the Calgary-based company's construction of the $8 billion, 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) conduit. The adjusted route, though, created new complications.
The biggest may be that the last-minute change deprived landowners along the alternative route of due process to argue their case before the state commission, said Katie Bays, an analyst at Height Securities LLC in Washington.
"By making this a due process issue, you can involve a federal court," Bay said in a telephone interview, adding, "I think that's the goal. If you can make it a federal issue, you have possibly a chance of a more favorable panel."