Even as TransCanada awaits President Barack Obama’s decision on whether to permit it to cross the border to build the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline, a more local obstacle has arisen.
A Lancaster County District judge has ruled unconstitutional the Nebraska law used to reroute the Keystone oil pipeline through the state.
Judge Stephanie Stacy has ruled the 2012 law violated the state constitution by giving the governor authority to approve the pipeline route. The compromise reached in Nebraska was seen as vital to moving Keystone XL closer to federal approval.
The lawyer representing Nebraska landowners in a lawsuit against TransCanada, Dave Domina, says the company now has no approved route through Nebraska. Domina is a Democrat running for United States Senate.
Stacy ruled that regulatory control under the state constitution rests with the Nebraska Public Service Commission. She allowed for a permanent injunction that prevents Gov. Dave Heineman and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality from moving the project forward.
TransCanada has recently opened the southern portion of Keystone XL, moving crude oil from Cushing, OK to Texas refineries along the Gulf Coast. It has been trying for years to get approval to cross the Canadian border and build the pipeline from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska where it can connect through Kansas to Cushing.
The northern portion of Keystone had at one time been a $5.4 billion project, but TransCanada officials acknowledge that price tag has gone up with the years of delay. It is projected to carry approximately 830,000 barrels of crude oil taken from oil sand deposits in western Canada as well as Bakken shale oil from North Dakota to the Gulf Coast refineries.