Nebraska Supreme Court Upholds PSC Approval of Keystone XL Route

On August 23, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in the Keystone XL pipeline route approval case that was argued before the court in fall, 2018. Issued as In Re Application No. OP-0003 and cited as 303 Neb. 872, the opinion stems from a suit brought by landowners and advocacy organizations in opposition to the Nebraska Public Service Commission's decision in November of 2017 to approve the Mainline Alternative Route (MAR) for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

In a 59-page, unanimous decision, authored by Justice Funke, the Court stated:

"In summary, the PSC is an elected body created by the Nebraska Constitution to serve the public interest... the legislature determined that '[t]he construction of major oil pipelines in Nebraska is in the public interest...' The Legislature designated the PSC as the agency responsible for determining which pipeline route is in the public interest. After months of careful consideration, the PSC determined that the evidence showed that the MAR (Mainline Alternative Route) is in the public interest. Upon de novo review, we find there is sufficient evidence to support the PSC's determination that the MAR is in the public interest. The assignments of error are without merit."

While those who argued in favor of the project welcomed the news, those who have long opposed the project, like Bold Nebraska founder and current Chair of of the Nebraska Democratic Party, Jane Kleeb, issued comments stating the Legislature, or a new President in 2020 could seek to undo the opinion issued by the Supreme Court.