TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline route through Nebraska was ruled illegal by a state court judge in a decision seen as setting back the project by as long as a year as U.S. officials consider approving it.
The ruling resets the pipeline approval process in Nebraska as the Obama administration studies the northern portion of the international project. President Barack Obama has been urged by some Democratic supporters to reject the project as too big a contributor to global warming while Republican leaders have pressured him to approve it and Canadian officials have criticized him for taking too long to decide.
“This gives the U.S. State Department and Obama an out,” said Bob Schulz, a University of Calgary business professor, who predicted there will be an appeal of the ruling. “Why would they decide if they don’t have to decide? I think he’s going to push it back another year.”
Judge Stephanie Stacy in Lincoln, the state’s capital, today struck down legislation that shifted the power to approve the pipeline route to Governor Dave Heineman, a Republican, from the state’s Public Service Commission. Legislation depriving the commission of that power violates the Nebraska Constitution, Stacy said, declaring the measure “unconstitutional and void.”