CORRECTED-Legal standing may be key to Nebraska court's Keystone XL case

Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:59pm EST
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(Corrects dateline to Dec 18 from Sept 18)

By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON Dec 18 (Reuters) - The controversial Keystone XL pipeline has a major hurdle to cross in the Nebraska State Supreme Court, which may rule as soon as Friday, and one aspect of the case there has been somewhat overlooked.

A question of legal standing, or who has the right to bring a court challenge, could turn out to be pivotal to the Nebraska case and the overall future of the pipeline, which would connect Canada's oil sands to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

A ruling in Keystone's favor would clear the way for the White House to approve or reject the pipeline, which proponents say would create thousands of jobs. A ruling against would send the TransCanada Corp plan into a logistical tailspin.

The Nebraska case, which dates back to 2012, centers on who in the state government should decide the pipeline's path.

Earlier this year, a Nebraska district court ruled in favor of three landowners who challenged a 2012 law empowering Nebraska's governor to make that decision.

The court reasoned that the law violated the state's constitution by usurping authority from the state's Public Service Commission.

The state government then appealed to Nebraska's highest court, arguing the district court erred on the constitutional issue. The state also said the landowners lacked standing.   Continued...