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House greenlights Keystone, Nebraska Supreme Court lets legislation allowing pipeline stand

With the House of Representatives passing legislation on TransCanada’s (ticker: TRP) Keystone XL pipeline for the tenth time in three years, and the Nebraska Supreme Court removing legal roadblocks to the pipeline, the stage is now set for a vote on a similar Keystone bill in the Senate.

The measure passed with a vote of 266 to 153. Twenty-eight Democrats joined Republicans to pass the legislation, reports CBS News.

In a split decision today before the House passed the Keystone legislation, four members of Nebraska’s seven-member Supreme Court agreed that Nebraska landowners who sued the state had legal standing to bring their case to court, but, because the case raised constitutional questions, a super-majority of five justices or more would be require to overturn the governor’s decision to allow the pipeline, reports the Associated Press. Since the court lacked the super-majority required, “the legislation must stand by default,” the court said in its opinion.

The proposed 1,179-mile, 800 MBOPD pipeline has been in legislative limbo since 2008, with President Obama saying he will not approve the pipeline if it proves detrimental to the environment, or before legal issues like the one is Nebraska have been settled. Because the pipeline crosses the U.S. border, it requires presidential approval as a matter of national interest.

Now that the Nebraska Supreme Court has decided to allow Keystone, the State Department has released its report saying that environmental effects from the project would be negligible, the House has passed legislation on the pipeline and the incoming Congress has said that passing a similar bill on Keystone is one of its major goals, the only remaining barrier to the project is the executive branch.

In a statement released Wednesday by the Office of Management and Budget (part of the Executive Office of the President), the administration said that it was still opposed to the project. The statement read, “The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3, which would immediately authorize the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline.”  The note goes on to say that because the legislation would conflict with the Executive branch’s authority and “prevent thorough consideration of complex issues” of national security, the president’s advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.

If the president does veto the bill, it will return to Congress where it will require 67 votes in order to override the veto. The 266 votes in favor of the bill in the House were not enough to overcome a presidential veto.

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