Nebraska governor OK's Keystone law

A compromise that would let the State of Nebraska influence the route of TransCanada's Keystone XL and other major oil pipelines has won final approval.
The Keystone XL pipeline project will bring Alberta oil to the refineries on the U.S. Gulf coast. (Courtesy TransCanada Corp.)

The governor of Nebraska has signed into law two bills that give the state the power to control the route of the Keystone XL pipeline and subject it to an environmental review.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed two bills into law on Tuesday that will regulate all oil pipelines within the state's borders. Last week, Nebraskan legislators voted to move the pipeline and ordered a new environmental assessment. Those decisions then went up the chain to Heineman's desk.

One measure would subject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to a state environmental review. The other would direct the Public Service Commission to review future projects with public input.

Combined, both mean that the ultimate authority for any pipeline project passing through the state lies in the governor's office, no matter what other regulatory bodies say.

Jane Kleeb, whose Bold Nebraska group is leading a campaign opposing the pipeline, will outline later Tuesday how the pipeline's critics plan to proceed once the special session ends.

The 2,700-kilometre Alberta-to-Texas line has pitted environmental groups and local landowners along the pipeline's route against energy producers and various interests that want to wean the United States off oil from the Middle East and countries such as Venezuela.

Nationally, the proposal still hinges on approval by the State Department, with ultimate authority resting in the U.S. president's office.

The State Department has delayed giving its opinion on the entire Keystone project until all stakeholders have had input. It's now believed that might not happen until the 2012 elections.

With files from The Associated Press