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Keystone XL Update: Nebraska Supreme Court Case Begins

The Nebraska Supreme Court began hearing the case that will be considered before the Obama Administration will decide whether or not to authorize the controversial pipeline.
September 8, 2014, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Last February we noted that Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy had dealt TransCanada, the builder of the controversial pipeline, a major setback. Jeff Brady, energy correspondent for NPR, brings us up to date after providing a brief background. [Listen here or download here.]

An early route through the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region [where the Ogallala Aquifer is located] was widely criticized. But after the pipeline company TransCanada changed the route, Republican Governor Dave Heineman [initially an opponent] approved it. An attorney representing three land owners opposed to the pipeline also happens to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator in Nebraska. Dave Domina will take a break from campaigning to argue before the state Supreme Court that the governor did not have the authority to approve the new route.

According to Domina,"(o)nly the Public Service Commission (created more than a century ago to curb the political influence of railroad barons) can handle the administrative process that goes with a specific route and its acceptance or rejection."

However, Senator Jim Smith authored a bill in 2012 that allowed the governor to make the routing decision. "(W)e would not have voted on it had we believed that it was unconstitutional," he states.

"It could take three months or more for the Nebraska Supreme Court to decide this case," writes Brady. "Depending on how justices rule, a final White House decision on the Keystone XL pipeline could be delayed until next year at the earliest," he adds, which will be just fine with President Obama who wants to delay his decision until after the November elections, as we noted last April.

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Published on Friday, September 5, 2014 in NPR
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