Domina Law Group pc llo’s investigation of the risks and benefits of TransCanada Pipeline’s proposed Keystone II pipeline through Nebraska and across a portion of its fragile sand hills region continues to command attention from Domina Law Group pc llo.
“Our investigative efforts, recently, have been focused on assisting people to understand two things:
1. What is the state of Nebraska’s role as contrasted with the federal role in pipeline location or ‘Siting’? and
2. Should landowners be fearful of refusing TransCanada’s easement offers because they may not do well in Court?”
Domina Law Group pc llo has responded to the second question many times. “It is important to reiterate, so people understand, that the eminent domain process is designed to be citizen supported. Eminent domain is a concept directly from the Bill of Rights – the Fifth Amendment. It favors the citizen over the condemning authority,” David A. Domina explained.
Domina Law Group pc llo has encouraged farmers and land owner approached by TransCanada right of way negotiators to give careful and resistive thought to the offers, and particularly the threats, made by TransCanada personnel. Generally, those who resist eminent domain longest are rewarded most. Often, those who are polite, respectful and courteous, but insist upon truly fair compensation after full disclosure of all risks and full understanding of all circumstances, do better than those who respond to fear, or act out of uncertainty.
A part of knowing what to do requires understanding of the legal process. If a condemnation case goes to Court, the price is established by jurors chosen from the county where the property being condemned is located. “This means your neighbors decide what TransCanada will pay you, instead of TransCanada deciding,” Domina stressed. “If you have been a good neighbor, isn’t reasonable to expect that you will be treated fairly by your neighbors? Can you really expect ‘fair’ treatment at the same level of confidence from TransCanada as you would expect from people with whom you have lived your life?”
The Pipeline Siting Question
Domina Law Group pc llo released a memorandum dealing with the role of state government, including Nebraska’s government in deciding where a pipeline can be built. The report may be read here. (click)
Briefly, the routes or the siting of pipelines are governed by states, not the federal government. Nebraska has no specific statute on pipeline siting. Its Legislature could enact one, and, by doing so, require the pipeline be built in the location of TransCanada’s current corridor for its first Keystone pipeline through the State. This corridor runs through Cedar, Wayne, and Stanton counties in the northeast and extends south and southwesterly from there. It avoids the sand hills, and was acquired, just a few years ago with nearly no controversy.
If TransCanada’s Keystone II pipeline is not built through this corridor, this will occur because Nebraska’s elected officials, in the Offices of Governor and the State Legislature, declined to exercise the control that could be exercised to protect the State’s natural resources.