Missteps can be traced to the state's approval of a route two years ago that would bypass "the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills area where the Ogallala Aquifer is located," writes Alison Sider and Alicia Mundy.
Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy sided with three landowners who argued Nebraska's governor shouldn't be able to sign off on the pipeline's route. The governor, Republican Dave Heineman,, was handed that power in a law the state Legislature hastily passed in 2012. But the court ruled that under the state's constitution, only Nebraska's Public Service Commission could approve such a pipeline route.
Attorney Dave Domina, representing the landowners, did not hide his glee.
"TransCanada has no approved route in Nebraska. TransCanada is not authorized to condemn the property against Nebraska landowners," he said. "The pipeline project is at a standstill."
In addition to appealing the decision, which Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning indicated he would do, the obvious next step would be for TransCanada Corp., the company building Keystone XL, to file an application with the Public Service Commission. It hasn't.
On another Keystone front, NPR's White House correspondent, Scott Horsley, reports on President Obama's meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Feb. 19. Horsley indicates that Obama remains noncommittal and emphasized his concern about climate change.
"Mr. Obama said he wouldn’t accommodate Canada’s demands for a quick decision on whether to grant a presidential permit for the Keystone project, and added climate change would be a key consideration in the final decision," wrote the Wall Street Journal's Paul Vieira in the Canada Real Time blog.