Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled a state law granting power of eminent domain to Gov. Dave Heineman was unconstitutional. State law LB 1161, passed in 2012, gave the governor authority over the Keystone XL route from Canada through the state instead of the Nebraska Public Service Commission.
Environmental campaigners pressured pipeline planner TransCanada to revise the Keystone XL route through the state to avoid a sensitive aquifer. Heineman last year said he was satisfied a revised route for the tar oil sands pipeline avoided the sensitive Sand Hills aquifer of the state
Though a January review from the State Department said Keystone XL posed few major risks to the environment, opponent Bold Nebraska said it was still concerned about the state's environmental health.
Bold Nebraska Director Jane Kleeb said the ruling was a victory for Nebraskans.
"TransCanada learned a hard lesson today: never underestimate the power of family farmers and ranchers protecting their land and water," she said in a statement.
There was no official statement from the governor's office or TransCanada about the judge's decision.