Nebraska Judge Strikes Down Keystone XL Pipeline Approval

| by Will Hagle

The Keystone XL pipeline has been a source of controversy for environmental activists and oil enthusiasts for several years now. The pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries, would serve an economic importance for the United States. It would create a surplus of jobs and would also bring the country a valuable oil supply from a trusted source. It would also threaten to destroy wildlife and other elements of the environment, critics claim.  

According to the AP, a Nebraska judge recently dismissed Gov. Dave Heineman’s  law that would have allowed the pipeline to proceed through the state. This marks the first attempt by a state to block pipeline construction, as it has already been approved for the majority of its route by Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. If the judge's ruling stands, the pipeline might need to be diverted on a new route that coculd be more costly and take longer to build.

Although much of the arguments against the pipeline involve the environment, the reason the project was shut down in Nebraska is entirely different. Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy argued that the law would give TransCanada Corp., the builder of the pipeline, eminent domain, as the corporation would have to overtake properties from landowners throughout the state in order to construct the pipeline. 

Stacy argued that Heineman did not have the authority to grant TransCanada such eminent domain powers, and that the decision should have been made by the Nebraska Public Service Commission. Stacy’s ruling sides with the three Nebraska landowners that filed suit upon the approval of the pipeline’s construction. 

Reports on Keystone XL’s environmental impact widely vary. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. State Department recently released an environmental assessment claiming the pipeline would have a limited effect on global greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental activists claim the opposite. President Obama has yet to take a firm stance on either side, and the project is seen as a test of his commitment to improving the struggling American economy, as well as his dedication to the environment.