At immediate issue was the revised route of the pipeline through Nebraska. The original route through fragile wetlands was one of the reasons President Obama had turned down builder TransCanada's first application to build the 1,167-mile northern segment of the pipeline. TransCanada subsequently presented a new application with a revised route. This was approved by the governor's office, which had received legislative authority to recommend or reject the pipeline. Previously, such decisions were up to the state's Public Service Commission. Stacy's ruling means review of the pipeline route must be placed back in the hands of that five-member commission unless she is overruled on appeal.
The court may not hear the case until at least September, and probably won’t rule until after mid-term congressional elections in November. [...]The lawyer for the land owners who brought the case is David Domina, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate seat being vacated after a single term by Republican Mike Johanns.
Stacy erred in allowing a challenge by three property owners to move forward because they hadn’t shown they had been injured as taxpayers by the state’s plan, Heineman, a Republican, said in a filing yesterday.
State Attorney General Jon Bruning, a Republican running to succeed Heineman as governor, argued that the trial judge set too low a threshold for taxpayers to bring court challenges to state legislation.
There's more about this below the fold.
So the case won't be decided for months and, if that ruling affirms Stacy's ruling giving the Public Service Commission authority over where the pipeline can be built, it could be well into 2015 before the route is approved...if it is.
That created an issue for the Obama administration, which had previously planned to have completed by early May its lengthy review of whether the Keystone XL is in the "national interest," a requirement for any pipeline, bridge, tunnel or tramway that crosses international boundaries. Since late February, the State Department has been evaluating millions of public comments and the assessments of several federal departments that are making their views known on whether they view Keystone XL as being in the national interest or falls short.
Among outside observers of the review process, it was expected that Secretary of State John Kerry would present his recommendation on the pipeline to the president sometime in May or early June. On Friday, however, the administration said it would delay a decision until after the Nebraska routing appeal is resolved. That means no thumbs up or down on the pipeline until after the midterm elections and possibly much longer.
Both foes and supporters have argued that this latest in a series of delays is solely due to election politics and Obama should bite the bullet and make his decision already. That, however, would first require a new presidential executive order to be issued right in the middle of a process whose roots date back to 1968.