Keystone XL Pipeline route will stand, Nebraska Supreme Court rules

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route through Nebraska will stand.

Nebraska's highest court rejected another attempt to derail the Keystone XL pipeline that could have forced the developer to reapply for state approval and delayed the $8 billion project yet again.

The ruling comes after a decade long battle over the routing and approval of the controversial pipeline through Nebraska and upholds the decision of regulators, who voted in 2017 to green-light a route through the state.

The court's decision removes one of the last major hurdles for the project, which has been mired in lawsuits and regulatory hearings since it was proposed in 2008.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 in favor of an "alternative route" for the project instead of developer TC Energy's preferred pathway for the pipeline. Opponents filed a lawsuit arguing the company didn't follow all the required procedures for the route that was approved.

The court heard testimony from more than 90 witnesses, and were presented with tens of thousands of pages of evidence from Nebraska landowners who said their property and livelihoods would be negatively impacted by the proposed KXL route, according to a news release from the Domina Law Group, which represented the landowners.

Attorneys Dave Domina and Brian Jorde said in the release that the route TransCanada did not have the jurisdiction to approve the pipeline on its preferred path, known as the Mainline Alternative Route; and that the route lacked promised jobs and tax revenues in addition to having no benefits to the state’s soil and rivers as well as the Ogallala Aquifer.

“We believe our evidence and arguments clearly showed TransCanada failed to meet its burden of proof and that the very laws under which the route was evaluated are unconstitutional," Domina said. "Our evidence proved the preferred route would be detrimental to the lands of Nebraska; that there are no on or off-ramps for Nebraskans to actually use the pipeline; that there is no fixed entry point into Nebraska; and that the claims of increased tax revenues and jobs simply were not true. However, we will respect the court’s decision and prepare for the next steps."

In its ruling, the Supreme Court found that the Nebraska Public Service Commission did have the power to grant approval of the route.

NCPS said in a statement Friday that it would respect the court's decision, and that "our involvement in the process has reached its conclusion."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.