By TONI ELLINGTON
On Friday, January 9, 2015, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. President Obama has threatened to veto the Keystone Pipeline bill, in part because of opposition in the state of Nebraska to the pipeline’s route through the state.
However, shortly before the House of Representatives’ vote on Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a Nebraska law giving Republican Governor Dave Heineman authority to approve the pipeline’s route through the state. The lawsuit was brought by three landowners. The suit challenged a 2012 Nebraska state law that allowed the Governor to empower the Calgary-based pipeline company, TransCanada, to force eastern Nebraska landowners to sell their property for the project. A lower court ruled for the landowners and found that only the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities, could force a sale.
By passing the bill on Friday, the House of Representatives voted to end a federal review over construction of the pipeline.
The Senate will begin debate on the Keystone Pipeline next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has stated that he will stage a lengthy debate on the pipeline. Senator Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to offer an amendment which will force Republicans in the Senate to go on record either acknowledging or denying whether climate change is “real” and whether it is “caused by human activities.”
At the end of the day, Republicans will be hoping they can persuade at least 4 Democrats in the Senate to join in approving the bill, in order to have the votes needed to override a possible presidential veto.
For updates, stay tuned to this blog, or contact Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8500.