In Keystone pipeline debate, Nebraska high court will have sway
By Patrick Rucker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nebraska's top court will hear arguments on Friday about how the Keystone XL pipeline might cross the state - a narrow question of routing and permitting that has clouded the project's fate after more than five years of wrangling at the federal level.
At issue is a 2012 law that gave Governor Dave Heineman authority to approve a route for TransCanada Corp's proposed Canada-to-Texas project.
Siting issues are typically settled by the state's Public Services Commission (PSC). In February, a Nebraska court ruled that the governor had been wrong to interrupt that process.
The decision was a win for landowners and environmentalists who oppose the Keystone project, aimed at transporting at least 730,000 barrels per day from the oil sands region of Western Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.
The Nebraska court decision forced the U.S. State Department to put on hold its review of project pending a resolution, which might not come until early 2015.
Because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada border en route from Alberta to Texas, the State Department must either bless or reject the proposal based on its evaluation of the national interest.
If the Nebraska Supreme Court ruling favors TransCanada, the State Department could quickly return to its review. But if the court rebuffs the company, a new bureaucratic process would begin that could keep the issue tied up in Nebraska at least through the spring.