Nebraska is once again being cited in a decision to delay a final decision on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The latest delay in the multi-year saga of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline was announced Friday by the State Department. The Department is responsible for determining if the pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast is in the national interest. Friday, it said it would give the eight federal agencies it is consulting with more time to submit their views. State Department spokesman Christopher Rich read from a media advisory announcing the delay. “Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state,” he read.
The Department also said it would use the unspecified additional time to "review and appropriately consider the unprecedented number of new public comments, approximately 2.5 million, received during the public comment period that closed on March 7, 2014."
Gov. Dave Heineman approved the pipeline route through Nebraska last year. But in February, Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled the law giving the governor approval power violates the state constitution, which gives such power to the Nebraska Public Service Commission. Attorney General Jon Bruning is appealing that decision, but the appeal has not yet gone to trial.
Friday’s delay means President Barack Obama may not have to make a final decision, and displease either business and labor supporters of the pipeline, or environmentalist opponents, until after the November election.
Russ Girling, president of pipeline company TransCanada, said in a written statement “We are extremely disappointed and frustrated with yet another delay. American men and women will miss out on another construction season where they could have worked to build Keystone XL and provide for their families. We feel for them.”
Ken Winston of the Nebraska Sierra Club called the delay another victory for opponents of the pipeline. “The longer this goes on, the more people find out about KXL and its threats to our water, land and climate, the more likely they are to oppose it,” Winston said.