The high court is breaking for the holidays next week, which means a ruling will have to wait until 2015. While observers expect a ruling to come sooner rather than later, they could be waiting until summer. Until the court makes a decision, the federal review of the $8 billion project is likely to remain in limbo at the State Department.
The Nebraska court case has been a convenient hitch in the State Department’s review of Keystone, as the federal government is unlikely to issue a final ruling until the pipeline’s route through various states is certain. The state Supreme Court, like every other regulatory body involved with this six-year-old project, kicked the Keystone can down the road, but next year will be issuing a ruling one way or another. When that happens, the White House will lose its last shred of an excuse for dallying on the issue.Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is chomping at the bit to push through a bill to approve Keystone when the new Senate sits next year, calling it a top priority. He’ll almost certainly have the votes to get around a filibuster, though it isn’t clear if he’ll have enough to circumvent a presidential veto.The President, for his part, recently played down the economic impact Keystone would have on the U.S. economy, noting that it will be primarily transporting Canadian rather than American crude. The economic effects are a bit of a red herring, however: President Obama has stated in the past he’d only approve the pipeline if it didn’t “significantly exacerbate” greenhouse gas emissions—a test report after report has said the pipeline will certainly pass. With that hurdle cleared, you would think our President wouldn’t have a problem with a project that could be a great boost for the economy of America’s most important trading partner.With the Nebraskan verdict coming due and a new GOP controlled Senate on its way, the Keystone farce finally seems to be coming to a head.