Judge strikes down Nebraska law through which the state approved the Keystone XL route

Because the Obama administration really needed another justification for their interminable dithering on the Keystone XL pipeline — not to mention the eco-radicals grasping at everything and anything they can to court the success of their counterproductive crusade.

To review: Back in January of last year, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality finished their impact report on TransCanada’s amended proposal for the route the Keystone XL pipeline would take through their state (environmentalists had objected to an earlier version that would have routed the pipeline through the state’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region, and this new version proposed to curve around the area instead). The state agency’s report concluded that the pipeline extension would pose “minimal” risks to Nebraska’s environment, triggering a 30-day approval period for Gov. Dave Heineman to submit the final approval for the project to run through the state — which he promptly did. Now, however, a judge is insisting that the whole Department of Environmental Quality-to-governor approval process was never quite the proper and complete way to go about it.

First off, let’s get this out of the way:

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Read: This is not a ruling on any of the pipeline’s merits, but rather on whether the decision went through all of the requisite administrative channels that had been passed into law the year before. On that score, the judge ruled that the governor’s decision was “based on an unconstitutional statute” and is “void on its face”:

Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled Wednesday that the 2012 law improperly gave the governor authority to approve the pipeline route, said David Domina, an Omaha attorney who represented plaintiffs in the case. …

The judge said regulatory control over pipeline companies rests with the Nebraska Public Service Commission. She granted a permanent injunction to prevent Gov. Dave Heineman and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality from taking further action to advance the pipeline.

The ruling would appear to mean TransCanada, the company seeking to build the crude oil pipeline, will have to seek state approval again for its route.

“Under the court’s ruling, TransCanada has no approved route in Nebraska,” Domina said in a news release. “TransCanada is not authorized to condemn the property against Nebraska landowners. The pipeline project is at a standstill in this state.”

Which doesn’t mean that the pipeline won’t have a route through Nebraska, but simply that TransCanada is probably going to have to go through another round of state-approval processing — and you know the eco-radicals are going to desperately, ferociously lobby to drag out this new opportunity for delay as long as they can manage. Good grief.