Nebraska Court Ruling Further Complicates Keystone XL Pipeline

fromNET

The ruling strikes down a state law that allowed a Canadian company to force landowners to sell their property so the pipeline could go through Nebraska en route to Texas refineries.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR business news starts with a clogged pipeline.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Clogged pipeline project, that is. The judge's ruling in Nebraska makes further delay completion of the Keystone XL pipeline. The decision immediately prompted an appeal.

Fred Knapp of NET News reports.

FRED KNAPP, BYLINE: The route through Nebraska has been an obstacle for the pipeline designed to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to Texas gulf coast refineries. Fears of environmental damage in the sensitive Sandhills region scuttled the first proposed route.

The Nebraska Legislature then passed a law allowing the governor to approve a new route. Wednesday, a judge ruled that law violates the Nebraska Constitution, which gives jurisdiction over pipelines to the state's Public Service Commission.

David Domina, a lawyer representing landowners challenging the law, called the ruling a setback for pipeline company TransCanada.

DAVID DOMINA: Essentially, what the courts' ruling means is that TransCanada has no approved route in Nebraska; it has no authority to exercise eminent domain in Nebraska.

KNAPP: Within hours of the ruling, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning announced he'll appeal. Jen Rae Wang, spokeswoman for Nebraska governor Dave Heineman, welcomed the announcement.

JEN RAE WANG: The governor is pleased that Attorney General Bruning is appealing that decision. He feels that this is an important issue for the state of Out: Nebraska.

KNAPP: The developments come as the State Department's deciding if the pipeline's in the national interest. A spokesman said the department's aware of the Nebraska decision, but will not comment on ongoing litigation.

For NPR News, I'm Fred Knapp in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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