TransCanada bypassed the Public Service Commission and used eminent domain to expedite the process of building the pipeline.
The Nebraska Supreme Court typically announces decisions on Fridays,and if Thompson v. Heineman is decided,organizers of groups against the pipeline say either decision is a win for them.
Speaking about the outcome for TransCanada on a conference call Thursday,Bold Nebraska director Jane Kleeb said,“both scenarios are a lose-lose.” The progressive Bold Nebraska group has a mission of “mobilizing new energy while restoring political balance” in the state.
If the court upholds a lower court’s decision that the 2012 Nebraska statute Gov. Dave Heineman used is unconstitutional,then TransCanada will have to get the pipeline approved through the Public Service Commission. The statute allowed TransCanada to bypass the commission in the first place.
“If they would have done that a long time ago,they would already have an answer by now,” Randy Thompson,the lead plaintiff in the case,said on the call. “They created their own mud hole they’re stuck in.”
It would take nearly seven months to complete the process through the commission,Kleeb said.
The case will not determine,however,if the pipeline can be built. Because the pipeline will cross the U.S.-Canada border,it requires a presidential permit. As recently as this week,President Barack Obama has said he does not support the pipeline because it doesn’t meet environmental standards.
But Obama’s State Department issued a report in January that found oil coming from Alberta’s tar sands in Canada would eventually make its way to the Gulf Coast by railroad regardless of if the pipeline is built.
But if the court sides with the state,there is still a chance Obama will deny the pipeline.
“I guess if the ruling does go against us,we still have very optimistic hopes the president will reject the pipeline,” Thompson said. “Ultimately he has to make a decision,and we think the best decision is to reject the pipeline.”
By siding with the state,the Nebraska Supreme Court would allow TransCanada to keep the current route and continue to force eminent domain on landowners.
The company has already spent $2.4 billion pursuing the project. If completed,it would transport roughly 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta,Canada,to the Nebraska-Kansas border. There,it would connect to another pipeline that reaches oil refineries in the Gulf Coast in Texas.
Reach reporter Kara Mason at email@example.com or 202-408-1492. SHFWire Stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.