News broke earlier today that a judge in Nebraska has thrown out that state’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project, finding that the legislature had illegally delegated authority over the project to Governor Dave Heineman instead of the state’s Public Service Commission:
Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy issued a ruling that invalidated Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman’s approval of the route. Stacy agreed with opponents’ arguments that law passed in 2011 improperly delegated the decision-making power to Heineman to give the company eminent domain powers within the state. Stacy said the decision should have been made by the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities.
The lawsuit was filed by three Nebraska landowners who oppose the pipeline.
“Under the Court’s ruling, TransCanada has no approved route in Nebraska,” Dave Domina, the landowners’ attorney, said in a statement. “TransCanada is not authorized to condemn the property against Nebraska landowners. The pipeline project is at standstill in this state.”
But North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, perhaps the most outspoken proponent of the pipeline in Congress, suggested in a released statement that the state PSC is likely to rule the same way on the project that Governor Heineman did. “Because the state of Nebraska made a thorough review of the alternative route, we would expect the Nebraska Public Service Commission to make the same decision as the governor in approving the new route and to do so in a timely manner,” Hoeven is quoted as saying in the release. “We believe, however, that the environmental concerns in Nebraska, and in every other state through which the pipeline will pass, have been addressed. Because the state of Nebraska made a thorough review of the alternative route, we would expect the Nebraska Public Service Commission to make the same decision as the governor in approving the new route and to do so in a timely manner.”
What this may do, though, is give the Obama administration another excuse to continue delays of the project at the federal level.