Nebraska Supreme Court Removes Keystone XL Barrier

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This map depicts the proposed locations of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

This map depicts the proposed locations of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

WASHINGTON — The White House says it’s waiting on the State Department to review a new court ruling that effectively removes a major block to the building of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“The State Department is examining the court’s decision as part of its process to evaluate whether the Keystone XL Pipeline project serves the national interest. As we have made clear, we are going to let that process play out,” Eric Schultz, White House principal deputy press secretary, said Friday.

His statement comes after the Nebraska Supreme Court vacated a lower court ruling that was stalling construction of the pipeline, which would run through several states and carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

President Barack Obama has said he was awaiting final word by the Nebraska court before determining whether to grant TransCanada, the firm building the pipeline, a presidential permit to move forward with remaining construction.

The decision reverses a lower court decision that had ruled the pipeline unconstitutional. While a majority of the court’s seven justices sided with landowners who were fighting Gov. Dave Heineman’s plans to OK the pipeline’s construction, a super majority of five justices were needed in order to rule his decision unconstitutional and block the pipeline’s development.

Opponents say the pipeline would run a significant risk to the environment, while proponents argue it will boost jobs and lessen American dependence on Middle Eastern oil. The State Department earlier this year released a long-anticipated report saying the completion of the pipeline would have little impact on carbon emissions.

The pipeline has been a political flashpoint in recent years, and the GOP-controlled House is expected to vote on its version of the pipeline plan around midday Friday.

“President Obama is now out of excuses for blocking the Keystone pipeline and the thousands of American jobs it would create. Finally, it’s time to start building,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

Schultz reiterated that Obama would veto the House bill, saying it “conflicts with longstanding Executive branch procedures regarding the authority of the President and prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could bear on U.S. national interests.

With Republicans now in control of the Senate, they’ve pledged to make the issue a priority in the new Congress. The Senate Energy Committee approved legislation to complete the project on Thursday, and a procedural vote is expected on the measure Monday in the full Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Obama Friday in a statement to reconsider his veto threat and said the Senate would soon pass a proposal to approve the project. “The president now has every reason to sign it,” McConnell said.

TransCanada is waiting for U.S. approval to finish construction on 1,200 miles of pipeline known as Keystone XL, which would complete a partially built pipeline network that runs 3,800 miles. The incomplete part of the pipeline would run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.


  • Holly Johnson

    If you’re going to write about this why not add the history and dangers of this project. After reading about this it seems as though it will just make the rich richer and everyone else sick with cance etc…. Wake up people. This is a move backwards not forwards in the environment. This distroys all the effort so far to clean everything up. Money (big money) and american ignorance voted these people into office to make this happen. These people don’t care about the planet but rather their own self greed. Read about it yourself and not from their bias website. Tell me this doesn’t feel like a set up.

    • kevin

      it would still be a lot cheaper to run a pipeline from mexico and its millions of barrels of untapped oil fields

  • Chris

    Why is there no mention that this won’t reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Canada is still a foreign country and the stuff isn’t even for us. It goes to Texas so it can be transported via tankers. Not so it can be handed to Americans.

  • John Smith

    There go property rights in Nebraska, I reckon. Their governor is now allowed to grant eminent domain to a foreign corporation, apparently.

    Having said that, does Keystone even have American backing to finance its boondoggle? I can’t imagine that falling oil prices make their tar sands crud worth the investment.

    BTW, does anyone know why they can’t build their pipeline to a refinery and shipping port in Canada?

  • John Smith

    Gee, been hearing more about this from OTHER than CNN and WHO, and lo and behold, the Nebraska Supreme Court actually ruled AGAINST the law 4-3. But, being Nebraska, and all, they need a 5-2 SUPER majority to actually decide a law is unconstitutional.

    So, I reckon the lawyers for each side will be busy for a while longer.

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