... U.S. House, Nebraska Supreme Court OK Keystone XL  

U.S. House OK’s Keystone as Nebraska Supreme Court Upholds Route

Cushing-Keystone-XL-Pumps

One of the first moves the 144th U.S. Congress made was to vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 266-153 to approve the Keystone XL pipeline shortly after the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in favor of the project route through the state.

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The White House released a statement earlier in the week that said President Barack Obama would veto a bill supporting the long delayed TransCanada Corp. project, but that was before the Nebraska court ruling on Jan. 9, which the president said he would wait for before making a decision on the pipeline.

The Nebraska Supreme Court began hearing arguments in Thompson v. Heineman last September regarding a Feb. 19, 2014, decision by Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy who declared that a 2012 law used to approve the proposed pipeline route through Nebraska was unconstitutional.

Stacy ruled the law improperly gave former state Gov. Dave Heineman authority to approve the pipeline route and wrongly divested the Nebraska Public Service Commission of control over common carriers and therefore regulatory control over the pipeline. She granted a permanent injunction to prevent Heineman and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality from taking further action to advance the pipeline.

The higher court ruled to allow the route just hours before the House decision. The Senate is expected to vote on a similar bill to approve the project next week.

TransCanada president and CEO Russ Girling applauded the Nebraska court decision in a statement and said the federal review of the project could “pick up where it left off.”

“Every aspect of this project has been extensively reviewed and we have repeatedly demonstrated how this project is in America’s national interest,” Girling said. “Along the route, we have acquired 100 percent of land easements from private landowners in Montana and South Dakota, with 84 percent of those acquired along the new route in Nebraska.”

Girling said the project still makes “environmental, economic and geopolitical sense” despite the drop in oil prices over the last six months.

Officials from the American Petroleum Institute and TransCanada applauded the swift action taken by the 114th U.S. Congress to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.

In November, the House approved a similar bill, but the U.S. Senate defeated the measure by one vote Nov. 18, 2014. At that time, many pundits speculated that when the new Republican-controlled Senate convened the long-stalled pipeline project for TransCanada would be at the top of the agenda.

On Jan. 6, bipartisan legislation was introduced in Senate to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and Girling and API president and CEO Jack Gerard issued responsed to the legislation.

“Like the 14,000 construction jobs that were created to build the existing Keystone system, there should be no discounting that for the nearly 9,000 men and women who will ply their trades to build this project and more than 42,000 in total across the American supply chain, these jobs are very real and meaningful,” Girling said at the time. “Nor should there be any question that for families living along the route that hundreds of millions of dollars in annual earnings and property taxes for local roads, schools and other critical infrastructure will make communities stronger and better places to live.”

Gerard agreed, adding that lawmakers were showing that “middle class jobs matter” by beginning 2015 by trying to approve Keystone XL.

“Forty-two thousand good paying American jobs are at stake and our nation needs to build critical energy infrastructure now for the energy demands of the future,” Gerard added. “We are confident a Keystone XL bill will be sent to the president’s desk and we urge him to finally say yes to this job creating project.”

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