LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline said Monday that its proposed route through Nebraska is still legally valid until a higher court decides whether the state's pipeline siting law is constitutional.
A spokesman for Calgary-based TransCanada said last week's ruling to invalidate the proposed route cannot be enforced while a lawsuit filed by landowners is on appeal. The case is expected to end up in the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Company officials said the ruling shouldn't affect the ongoing federal review. TransCanada is not a party to the lawsuit between landowners and the state, but has followed the case because of its potential impact on the Canada-to-Texas pipeline.
"We have dealt with many issues related to this project in the past and we are confident we can overcome this latest hurdle," James Millar, a TransCanada spokesman, said in a statement. "It is our view that the current 90-day (federal review) process that is now under way should not be impacted by the Nebraska lower court ruling since the approved re-route remains valid during appeal."
The route was approved by Republican Gov. Dave Heineman after an evaluation by the state Department of Environmental Quality. In their lawsuit, three landowners argued that the law, which allowed Heineman to approve the route, violated the state constitution because it took power away from the Nebraska Public Service Commission. The Nebraska attorney general's office is appealing the district court decision.
Pipeline opponents disputed the company's argument.
"Attorney General (Jon) Bruning and TransCanada may not like the fact that they have no legal route in Nebraska and no power of eminent domain, but their latest move is a slap in the face to landowners, citizens and our state constitution," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska.