Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court

Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Keystone XL Pipeline is a step closer to beginning construction after Nebraska's highest court approved plans through the state.

The decision filed Friday by the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that "after months of careful consideration" the court found evidence that showed the plans were in the "public interest," and that the state's Public Service Commission acted appropriately when it approved the path for the pipeline through Nebraska.

The decision paves the way for construction to begin on the heavily stalled gas pipeline project.

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Environmental groups who challenged the permit in court denounced the ruling Friday as failing to consider the environmental impacts of the pipeline's construction.

“It’s disappointing that the court ignored key concerns about property rights and irreparable damage to natural resources, including threats to the endangered whooping crane, but today’s ruling does nothing to change the fact that Keystone XL faces overwhelming public opposition and ongoing legal challenges and simply never will be built,” said Ken Winston, attorney for the Nebraska Sierra Club, in a statement.

“The fight to stop this pipeline is far from over."

The pipeline still faces further hurdles, including a federal lawsuit in Montana seeking to block construction there, as well as ongoing opposition from Native American tribes throughout Nebraska and South Dakota that have pledged to protest if construction is approved. 

The 1,179-mile pipeline has been in commission since 2010.

Former President Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline plan, which aims to transport crude oil from Canada through the U.S., but it was revived under Trump, who approved a permit in 2017.

That permit was soon challenged in court with a judge in 2018 placing a hold on all construction over concerns about the pipeline's environmental review.

The issue was especially a sticking point in Nebraska, where the state's  Public Service Commission voted almost two years ago in favor of an "alternative route" for pipeline through the state that differed from the developer's chosen pathway. Environmental groups sued over the change, arguing the company wasn't following appropriate procedure when suggesting the new route. The court Friday ruled against them.

Trump earlier this year rescinded a his earlier Keystone XL permit, replacing it with a presidential permit for a new pipeline route that effectively removed the existing barriers to construction of the new plan.

The pipeline has been a lightning rod in national energy policy for much of a decade since its proposal by TransCanada. If it's completed, the pipeline would carry crude oil down fromCanada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Several Democratic presidential candidates looking to take on Trump in 2020 have pledged to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul MORE (I-Vt.), as well as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and hedge fund executive Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerCNN announces details for LGBTQ town hall New poll finds Biden, Warren in virtual tie in Iowa Gabbard drives coverage in push to qualify for October debate MORE. The candidates signed on to the pledge from Bold Nebraska, which launched last week.