The company seeking to build the Keystone XL pipeline is abandoning its efforts to seize land from Nebraska property owners for the pipeline through eminent domain.
TransCanada will instead attempt to get the pipeline path approved through a Nebraska Public Service Commission process that it had sought to avoid.
"We believe that going through the PSC process is the clearest path to achieving route certainty for the Keystone XL Project in Nebraska. It ultimately saves time, reduces conflict with those who oppose the project and sets clear rules for approval of the route," TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said in an email.
The decision comes as property owners are in court battling the state law that TransCanada was using to try to invoke eminent domain to take private land for the pipeline.
Keystone opponents in Nebraska cheered the decision, saying the company was facing mounting legal expenses and the potential of losing in court.
"This is a major victory for Nebraska landowners who refused to back down in the face of bullying by a foreign oil company," said Jane Kleeb, director of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska.
The move, though, has the potential to benefit TransCanada in the end, since the Nebraska Public Services Commission process will take at least a year.
That could help push a decision on approval of the pipeline to the next president, who might be friendlier to the project. President Barack Obama could decide at any time whether to approve Keystone XL. But the Obama administration has delayed a decision for the past seven years, often using ongoing reviews in the states as a reason not to act.