Domina Law Group represents a Nebraska ranch couple in their suit to bar
survey crews from the NPPD from their land.
Domina Law Group is representing a Nebraska ranch couple in a lawsuit against
the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). The suit challenges the NPPD’s
right to enter the ranch land that lies in the Sandhills, asserting that
Nebraska Revised Statute § 76-702 is unconstitutional.
Nebraska is one of only two states in the U.S. that has a 100% public corporation
running its power utilities. As a public corporation, the NPPD is a political
subdivision of the state of Nebraska. Recently, the NPPD has been citing
Nebraska Revised Statute § 76-702 as justification for entering private
land for the purpose of surveying in preparation for its R-Project line.
The R-Project line would cost an estimated $361 million, according to officials
from the NPPD, and improve central Nebraska’s power grid. The surveying
is laying the groundwork for the NPPD’s proposed start date of February
2017 – just ten months away. If it continues on schedule, the project
would be completed around September 2018.
Domina Law Group and the landowners they represent are hoping that doesn’t
happen. In their argument, they contend that the ranch land lying in the
path of the proposed R-Project line contains fragile soils, a sensitive
habitat, and a fragile ecosystem. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has
corroborated that assessment, saying that the line should be re-routed
to avoid harm to this important habitat, along with its endangered species
and migratory birds.
The lawsuit was filed by Dan and Barbara Welch of Brush Creek Ranch Thomas
County District Court. At the heart of their suit is a claim that the
right of eminent domain the Legislature can grant does not include the
power of survey if that surveying is in preparation for condemnation.
If it did, the law must be unconstitutional because there is no provision
for the landowners to be justly compensated.