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Landowners Opening Brief Filed in Nebraska Keystone XL Battle

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 landowners, 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)

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