... Nebraska Supreme Court to Hear Keystone XL Arguments  

Nebraska Supreme Court to Hear Keystone XL Arguments

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline will now pass through the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman is asking the court to reverse a Feb. 19 decision where Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy declared the 2012 law used to approve the proposed pipeline route through Nebraska was unconstitutional.

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Stacy ruled that the law improperly gave 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.

Now the state’s highest court will begin hearing arguments in Thompson v. Heineman on Sept. 5 to decide whether pass along approval of the project to the Obama administration or delay it further.

At issue are whether Heineman had proper jurisdiction to approve the project. The governor’s lawyers argue that the Public Service Commission has authority over intrastate pipelines and that Keystone XL falls outside its jurisdiction because it is not an intrastate common carrier.

Heineman’s lawyers also argue that Stacy erred in her February ruling that landowners had legal standing to sue as injured taxpayers.

Opponents of the project say the district court erred when it failed to hold that the 2012 law approving the project was unconstitutional and void because it failed to provide for judicial review and violates due process. Stacy deferred making a decision on the due process claim. Heineman’s opponents also argue that the district court erred when it failed to hold that the 2012 law was unconstitutional and void because it conferred upon the governor the authority to grant a private entity power to exercise eminent domain.

The Nebraska Supreme Court is not expected to decide on the case before November elections, when a new governor will be elected. Heineman cannot seek reelection because of term limits.

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