Friday, January 16, 2015

KEYSTONE BACK TO COURT: Nebraska landowners file new lawsuits to block pipeline

Landowners in two Nebraska counties opposed to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline have filed lawsuits challenging the right of the project’s developer, TransCanada from taking their land using eminent domain. 

Holt County Nebraska
This is a new a separate action taken in the courts in the wake of the Nebraska Supreme Court’s review of state law which left unanswered the question of whether the state had improperly given the authority to choose the pipelines route to then Governor Dave Heineman.

The lawsuits, filed in Hold and York Counties, cover much of the same ground covered in the case of Thompsen V. Heineman dismissed last week. The landowners claim LB1161, the law passed by the Nebraska State Legislature is in conflict with the state’s Constitution.  As a result the lawsuits claim “TransCanada is without eminent domain authority or an approved pipeline route across Nebraska because … the Governor’s actions are TransCanada’s sole basis for claiming an approved route or power of eminent domain.” 

In both the Holt and York County cases a total of seven landowners filed the lawsuits. They claim, in nearly identically related briefs, their property is along the pipeline route. Four of the seven have already received written notice from TransCanada that they intend to proceed with condemnation proceedings against their land to advance the pipeline project.

In the matching legal briefs the landowners who have been served notice state they have declined and refused to “declines and refuses to voluntarily convey ownership rights” to TransCanada.

York County Nebraska
No date has been set yet for follow up hearings in either county.
President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have yet to state whether the United States government will object to the Canadian-based project from crossing the northern border.

BOLD Nebraska, leading the state’s opposition to the project announced the filing on its website late Friday, adding “it is only the President who can provide peace of mind to farmers and ranchers along the route. Our fight will continue even if the President rejects the pipeline.”

Representatives of TransCanada and the State of Nebraska were not available for comment at this writing.