Dylan Scott is a GOVERNING staff writer.E-mail: email@example.com
Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline are taking the state of Nebraska to court, seeking to block a new state law that allows environmental reviews of the oil pipeline project to resume, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
With financial support from environmental advocacy groups, three landowners are reportedly suing the state, arguing that the law unconstitutionally gives responsibility for crude-oil regulations to the governor and the state's Department of Environmental Quality and because it benefits only one stakeholder: TransCanada Inc., the company building the pipeline.
The 1,700-mile pipeline, pumping oil from western Canada, would pass through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma before terminating at Texas oil refineries. Nebraska, however, has been the focal point of the controversial project because it was originally going to pass through the groundwater-rich Sand Hills region. The Legislature held a special session last fall, though, and TransCanada agreed to build the pipeline around the region.
The Obama administration rejected TransCanada's application in January, partly because the U.S. State Department had not concluded a review of the pipeline's possible impact on environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska, but announced in late March that it would "cut through the red tape" to speed up the construction of the pipeline's southern section (from Oklahoma to Texas).
But the Nebraska portion of the pipeline remains mired in uncertainty, which is likely to only be exacerbated by the pending lawsuit, the World-Herald notes.