WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2015 – A major roadblock to the Keystone XL pipeline was removed today when the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision and upheld a state law that allowed the governor to approve the route of the project within the state.

The ruling was released hours before the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure approving the pipeline. The vote was 266-153 with 28 Democrats joining Republicans in giving the controversial project the go-ahead. Approval in the Senate, where Republicans are now in control, could come next week, sending the measure to President Barack Obama, who is threatening a veto.

The White House has argued that Congress should postpone action on Keystone until the State Department completes a review of the project, which would cross an international border. The planned pipeline would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Bold Nebraska, an anti-pipeline group, called for Obama to defend the rights of farmers, ranchers and tribal communities in the state.

TransCanada – the Canadian company that plans to build the pipeline -- “is left with a risky route to defend,” Bold Nebraska said in a news release. “This is a bad day for property rights in Nebraska. Private, foreign corporations now know they can buy their way through our state.”

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Republican Senator John Thune called on the president to reverse his position and sign the Keystone bill once it clears Congress. The planned pipeline route also crosses through Thune’s home state of South Dakota.

“The president’s litany of excuses for delaying the Keystone XL pipeline has hit yet another dead end,” Thune said in a statement. “This court decision further erodes the president’s obstruction of the bipartisan, job-creating Keystone XL. Soon the president will have a clear opportunity to sign a bipartisan bill into law approving the construction of this common-sense infrastructure project. The president is out of excuses, and it is time for him to act.

“Will he stand for the American people, or will he continue to stand for his far-left liberal allies?” Thune asked.

 (This story was updated at 1:25 p.m.)


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