The Obama administration shut down the development of the Keystone XL pipeline
more than a year ago, but Nebraskan landowners aren’t done fighting
with the multi-billion dollar company behind its construction.
TransCanada, the Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based oil and energy company
that sought to build the 1,170 mile pipeline looks to avoid paying the
court costs incurred by the landowners who opposed them over the eight
year legal battle. During those eight years, about 100 Nebraskan landowners
pushed back against the foreign company’s attempts to use eminent
domain laws to gain access to their private land.
“If, for example, as a farmer and I go out there and decide I'm
going to deep chisel plow my field and I hit that pipe and knick it and
create a leak, then I'm responsible for that even though they put
the pipe in and they're not allowing me to do my business, which is
to farm my ground best way possible,” commended Art Tanderup, one
of the landowners who stood against TransCanada.
A judge ordered the company to repay the legal fees of these landowners
– about $500,000 worth of legal fees – earlier this year.
Now, TransCanada is appealing those rulings in county and district courts
across the state. A judge in Wahoo, NB listened to arguments from attorneys
on both sides earlier in December, including Domina Law Group attorney
Brian Jorde who represented the landowners throughout their case.
“Well here this company wants to take land for a specific purpose
which is for profit, only for them to transport a product that is not
offloaded in Nebraska, and just cuts through our state,” said Brian.
“And they should have to pay the land owners for what they put them
through in order to do that.”
TransCanada’s attorneys argued that the reimbursement the landowners
are seeking is based on generalities, and that the $500,000 or so figure
doesn’t accurately represent the court costs they incurred, a statement
The future of the Keystone XL Pipeline remains uncertain, especially since
President-elect Trump vowed to bring it back during his campaign. Whether
or not he chooses to follow through on that promise, the Nebraskan landowners
remain committed to their fight to protect their land and the Ogallala
Aquifer that lies beneath it. The aquifer supplies water to over 2 million
people throughout the Great Plains region, and an oil spill could cause
catastrophic damage to the local ecosystems and seriously harm everyone
who relies on that source of water.
No matter what the court decides, TransCanada will need to wait until September
of 2017 before they can resume their eminent domain efforts – Nebraska
law requires a two year wait after abandoning these efforts, which the
company did back in September of 2015. In the meantime, the company is
focusing their efforts on fighting 59 different court cases spread across
9 counties in an attempt to avoid paying any of the landowner’s