Nebraska just made things a lot harder for Keystone

The state's approval of the pipeline was unconstitutional, a judge ruled Wednesday

By Lindsay Abrams

Published February 20, 2014 2:13PM (EST)

Regardless of whether or not President Obama decides to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, its planned route through Nebraska is now illegal, a state court judge ruled. According to Bloomberg, the decision could set the pipeline back by as long as a year.

The judge found that the process by which Nebraska had originally approved the pipeline -- shifting authority away from the state's Public Service Commission to Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, who gave TransCanada permission to build on private land -- was unconstitutional. Unless a higher court reinstates the law, the AP reports, TransCanada may have to reroute the entire pipeline, or else seek permission from every single landowner whose property would be crossed.

Speaking alongside Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Wednesday, Obama defended his long, drawn-out process of deciding whether to approve the pipeline. "There has been a process that [Keystone] has gone through, and I know it's been extensive — and at times I'm sure Stephen feels a little too laborious," he told reporters. "But these are how we make these decisions about something that could potentially have significant impact on America's economy and America's national interest." He added that concern over climate change and Keystone's potential impact on greenhouse gas emissions would necessarily "affect all of our decisions at this stage."

But according to some, Nebraska's ruling will only make the decision process longer. “This gives the U.S. State Department and Obama an out,” Bob Schulz, a University of Calgary business professor, told Bloomberg. “Why would they decide if they don’t have to decide? I think he’s going to push it back another year.”

Lindsay Abrams

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Climate Change Greenhouse Keystone Xl Pipeline Nebraska President Obama Transcanada