A decision by the state Supreme Court could come soon either upholding or striking down state law that approved TransCanada’s route for Keystone XL through Nebraska.
Lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state, rancher Randy Thompson, says he’s just patiently waiting for the process to play out; a process he says he respects.
“We’re prepared to live with whatever decision the Supreme Court comes with,” Thompson tells reporters during a conference call. “I have to say we’re optimistic. We think we have a very strong case.”
The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the lawsuit in September. Thompson and three other landowners contend the Unicameral violated the state constitution when it approved the law used to authorize the Keystone XL oil pipeline route through Nebraska.
The law shifted authority to approve the pipeline route from the Public Service Commission to the governor.
A Lancaster County District judge agreed and ruled the law unconstitutional. The state appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court, which could issue a ruling at any time.
The lawsuit has implications beyond Nebraska.
President Barack Obama has stated he will not move on TransCanada’s request for a presidential permit to build the northern portion of Keystone XL until the legal issues in Nebraska are resolved. The southern portion of the pipeline, from Cushing, OK to refineries along the Gulf Coast, has already been built and is in operation.
The case Thompson, Bold Nebraska, and other opponents have made against Keystone XL go well beyond the courtroom. In fact, Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska asserts that even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the state, Bold Nebraska will press its anti-Keystone XL case with President Obama, urging him to deny the TransCanada permit request.
TransCanada continues to press its case, largely to the public hoping polls that indicate America’s support the pipeline will persuade the president. TransCanada touts the project as a job creator, a boon to rural counties which will derive tax benefits from it, and a major step toward North American oil independence.
Opponents have countered that it would be harmful to the environment, claiming if Keystone XL is denied, Canada will not follow through with extracting crude oil from the oil sands of western Canada. As a possible decision grows closer, claims against Keystone XL have intensified.
According to TransCanada Vice President Corey Goulet some of those claims have left the bounds of reasonable debate.
“I think some of the opposition groups try to provide misinformation and, frankly, sometimes downright lies about the project,” Goulet tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Goulet says TransCanada will push ahead with the project no matter how the Nebraska Supreme Court rules.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]