September 5, 2014 / 11:01 AM / 4 years ago

Full house likely as Nebraska top court hears Keystone XL case

WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Backers and opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline are expected to pack a courtrooom in Lincoln on Friday when the Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments about whether the state’s governor was wrong to approve a route for the controversial project.

At issue is a 2012 law that gave Governor Dave Heineman the authority to approve a route for TransCanada Corp’s proposed Canada-to-Texas project, which would carry tar sands crude oil from Alberta to Texas.

Siting issues are typically settled by the state’s Public Services Commission (PSC) but Heineman used the law to bless a route for the 1,700-mile pipeline early last year.

In February, a Nebraska court ruled that the governor had been wrong to interrupt the normal siting process.

The hearing is due to start at 10 a.m. ET/1500 GMT. Lawyers for the governor and a group of landowners will each have about ten minutes to make their case before potentially fielding questions from a panel of judges.

A federal review of Keystone, led by the State Department, is on hold pending the outcome of the Nebraska case.

Environmentalists say the project must be rejected as part of a broader campaign to fight climate change. Supporters say Keystone would create jobs and spur the U.S. economy.

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 Andrew Hay

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