Nebraska court tosses suit over Keystone pipeline

January 9, 2015


Nebraska's highest court tossed a lawsuit Friday challenging a proposed route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying the landowners who sued didn't have legal standing to do so.

The closely watched Nebraska Supreme Court decision could remove a major roadblock for the $7 billion cross-continental project that Republicans have vowed to make a key part of their 2015 agenda in Congress.

In a split-decision, the court ruled that the three landowners who sued the state failed to show they had legal standing to bring their case. Four judges on the seven-judge court agreed that they did have legal standing, but because the case raised a constitutional question, a super-majority of five judges was needed.

"The legislation must stand by default," the court said in the opinion.

The lawsuit challenged a 2012 state law that allowed the governor to empower Calgary-based TransCanada to force eastern Nebraska landowners to sell their property for the project. A lower court had sided with the landowners, who said that power resided with the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities.

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