Today, lawyers for Nebraska landowners submitted written arguments stating
that a 2012 legislative bill unconstitutionally authorizes a foreign pipeline
company, TransCanada, to seize their land through eminent domain. Although
Congress has attempted to push the Keystone XL Pipeline project through,
it has since been halted by a presidential veto, as well as the lawsuits
filed by Nebraska landowners—who won temporary injunctions halting
eminent domain proceedings in February of this year.
In Nebraska, four members of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a landowner
group, who sought to strike down this law. However, three Justices refused
to vote. Since state law requires at least five out of the seven Justices
to concur in order to quash a legislative bill, no definitive decision
was made. Even so, this activity gave rise to another round of landowner
cases in Nebraska. Attorneys Dave Domina and Brian Jorde wrote the briefs
that were submitted to Judge Mark D. Kozisek this week.
The case is set to be heard in court on October 19, 2015 in O’Neill,
Nebraska. Domina and Jorde also handled the case previously filed by the
Thompson v Heinemann, 289 Neb 798 (2015), in which they argued that LB 1161 violates Nebraska
State Constitutional provisions.
Several prohibitions in the State Constitution are involved, including:
- The Public Service Commission must make decisions about pipelines
- Lack of any legal standard for decision making about pipelines
- Failure to provide a procedure for hearing contests about pipeline applications
- Lack of judicial review in any appeal process
- Pledge of a $2 million revolving credit line to the pipeline company
TransCanada and the Nebraska Attorney General have 30 days to respond to
the landowners. “Our positions are very strong. We look forward
to the October 19 arguments and have a good sense for the legal positions
of our Nebraska landowner clients,” explains Dave Domina of Domina
Law Group pc llo.
The full brief may be read here:
Steskal v. TransCanada (No. CI 15-6)