The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday reversed a lower court ruling blocking the Keystone XL pipeline’s path across the state, and the U.S. House voted to force through approval of the international pipeline.
The pipeline, meant to take tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, has been an environmental battleground, as environmentalists say the oil, much of it extracted through fracking, is more polluting than other sources. President Obama has threatened to veto a bill if the Congress authorizes construction of the pipeline.
But the House voted 266-153 to approve it, and the Senate is expected to follow, in the new, Republican-controlled Congress.
The pipeline is projected to be able to carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to Gulf Coast ports in the United States.
A spokesman for President Obama said today that the veto threat still holds, not necessarily because of environmental considerations, but because Congress is encroaching upon presidential authority.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, who left office last week, approved the pipeline path through Nebraska after the pipeline company TransCanada agreed to avoid the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region.
Litigation then followed over whether the governor or the Nebraska Public Service Commission had power to approve the project, and whether four or five members of the state supreme court were needed to authorize it.
The Nevada Constitution requires that votes of five judges are required to find a state law unconstitutional. Four of the state supreme court’s seven judges found the law authorizing the bypass of the Public Service Commission unconstitutional, but in its ruling today, Jan. 9, the state supreme court said that that vote was not upon the constitutionality of the law, so the law stands.
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