WASHINGTON Aug 11 The Nebraska Supreme Court
will soon hear arguments in a dispute over the planned route for
the Keystone XL pipeline but a court ruling on the controversial
project is likely to be delayed until the new year, lawyers and
The court has scheduled oral arguments for Sept. 5 in
Lincoln over the proposed path of the 1,200-mile (1,900-km)
pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Although it will be a talking point in several Congressional
races, Keystone's fate is likely to remain in limbo during the
Nov. 5 U.S. mid-term elections.
"These things typically take three to six months," said Jane
Kleeb, of the group Bold Nebraska, which has helped galvanize
landowner opposition to the pipeline. "We have always thought
the decision will come in January."
TransCanada Corp's $5.4 billion pipeline would
connect Western Canada's tar sands region with Texas oil
refineries but the project, now in a sixth year of debate,
continues to face opposition.
The Nebraska ruling will address a dispute that has involved
the state's politicians, ranchers and regulators. State
lawmakers last year cleared the way for the pipeline but a group
of landowners challenged the decision.
In February, a district court sided with landowners who want
the siting decision left to the five-member Nebraska Public
Service Commission. Governor Dave Heineman asked the Nebraska
Supreme Court to overrule.
TransCanada declined to comment on the Nebraska case.
The U.S. State Department said in April that its review of
the pipeline was on hold until the Nebraska case had concluded.
Ultimately, President Barack Obama will have the last word
on the project, and the White House may conclude Keystone is not
in the national interest if the project's 830,000 barrel-per-day
capacity would unduly worsen climate change.
Republican leaders have rejected that thinking and promoted
the pipeline as a jobs booster.
Keystone XL foes have encouraged Obama to block the
pipeline and cement his legacy as an environmental president.
They have contested the State Department's finding that the
pipeline would have a negligible effect on climate.
The study fails to account for how the pipeline would spur
future oil demand, according to a report published Monday by the
journal Nature, authored by the Stockholm Environment Institute,
an environmental think tank.
"It is clear that Keystone does not pass the president's
climate test," an association of several environmental groups
said in a statement.
The case is Thompson vs. Heineman, case number S-14-0158 in
the Nebraska Supreme Court.
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Ros Krasny and Lisa