- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2019

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday cleared the way for construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, rejecting another attempt by opponents to derail the project.

The ruling delivered a big win for Canada-based TC Energy and President Trump, who made approving the pipeline project one of his first acts as president.

The opponents, which include environmentalists and Native American activists, vowed to keep fighting.

“The risky pipeline project’s fate is still very much in doubt, as three separate federal lawsuits continue to proceed that challenge the controversial project’s permits,” the environmental group Bold Alliance said.

In Friday’s ruling, the court upheld a decision by the Nebraska Public Service Commission that in a 3-2 vote nearly two years ago authorized a new route for the pipeline. The opponents filed a lawsuit, arguing that the company needed to jump through more regulatory hoops.

The court rejected the opponents’ case.

“We find there is sufficient evidence to support the PSC’s determination that the [route] is in the public interest,” Justice Jeffrey Funke wrote for the court.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission said the case was closed.

“At this time our involvement in the process has reached its conclusion. We respect the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Public Service Commission Executive Director Mike Hybl.

The Keystone XL project has been at the center of a political battle for a decade.

The pipeline would extend from Canada’s oil sands to Nebraska, where it would connect with pipelines going to Gulf Coast refineries.

As one of his first moves in office, Mr. Trump revived the project that had been blocked by President Barack Obama. Mr. Trump said it would bring a boon of 28,000 construction jobs and boost U.S. energy production.

Court challenges by environmental groups ensued. Mr. Trump has managed to keep the project moving forward, including issuing a new permit after a district court judge in Montana ordered a halt of construction on the pipeline.

Bold Nebraska, which is part of the Bold Alliance, has attempted to force the pipeline controversy into the 2020 presidential race. The group is demanding the Democratic candidates sign a pledge to revoke the federal permit for the project.

Since launching the “NoKXL Pledge” last week, six candidates signed on, including Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signed the pledge but subsequently dropped out of the presidential race.

The group also sent an email to supporters asked for donations to finance the continued fight.

“Bold is in need of more resources to continue fighting Keystone XL, to support our landowners’ lawsuits, for cultural resource surveys of sacred and historical sites by the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and other Tribes impacted by KXL, and to continue organizing landowners and Nebraskans to keep up the fight to stop this pipeline,” the group said in the email.

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