Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline can proceed with their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state law that settled the route of the pipeline through Nebraska.
Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy has rejected a request by state officials to dismiss the lawsuit.
Three Nebraska landowners brought suit against the state, claiming that Gov. Dave Heineman should not have been given authority to approve the route of the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska. The lawsuit claims the law approved by the Unicameral during a special legislative session in 2011 violated the state constitution and should be overturned.
TransCanada proposes building the $7 billion, 1,700 miles crude oil pipeline from western Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. The original route proposed by the company passed through the Sand Hills, raising concerns about how it might affect the environmentally fragile region. A compromise brokered during the special session moved the route and won approval by the governor.
The Keystone XL pipeline must win approval by the president, because it would cross the border between the United States and Canada. President Barack Obama has yet to decide whether to grant approval.
The ruling in Lancaster County only allows the lawsuit to proceed. It does not comment on the merits of the pipeline.