Omaha Public Radio News
12:36 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

UNO political scientist: pipeline siting authority bill raises constitutional questions

Omaha, NE – A bill in the Nebraska Legislature would give the Nebraska Public Service Commission authority to determine where pipelines can be routed through the state.

The Unicameral began a special session November first on the Keystone XL pipeline project. TransCanada officials announced Monday they'll reroute the XL pipeline away from the Sandhills.

Paul Landow, a political science professor at UNO, says it's questionable whether the state has the authority to determine where a pipeline can be routed. "The federal government has the authority to route transcontinental pipelines. So the issue is exactly how much jurisdiction can the states have, if Nebraska can pass any law it wants but the ultimate question is, will it stand Constitutional muster."

Landow believes TransCanada's agreement to move the pipeline will put pressure on the Obama administration to make a decision on permits for the project. The State Department says a decision will be made on the pipeline after the 2012 election.