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Nebraska Governor Can't Shake Landowners' Keystone Law Challenge

Brian Jorde, David Domina and the three landowners they are representing will have their case heard in federal court. The lawsuit challenges the law that gave Nebraska Governor Heineman the power to approve a new route for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. The Nebraska state judge would not throw the case out on the ground that public funds were used to carry out the law's provisions, giving the landowners' law challenge merit.

The law that gave Gov. Heineman this power was L.B. 1161. Before the law was passed, the decision for the pipeline route would have been up to a vote by the Public Service Commission (PSC). Jorde and his three landowners allege that L.B. 1161 violates the Nebraska constitution, because there is a clause in the constitution which states that crude oil companies must be handled by the PSC.

L.B. 1161 also allowed Gov. Heineman to give TransCanada the right of eminent domain. In other words, TransCanada can take private land for pipeline use. If Jorde and his plaintiffs are successful, then L.B. 1161 will be overturned and an injunction could stop it from being enforced. The current proposed route for the pipeline is the shortest, and cheapest, route for TransCanada but many affected landowners have safety concerns.

Currently, the Department of Environmental Equality (DEQ) is conducting a review of the proposed route and the effects it might have on the land/landowners. After Gov. Heineman receives the DEQ review, he will have 30 days in which to approve or disapprove of TransCanada's route. To learn more about the lawsuit, read the full Law 360 article.


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