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Domina Law Group Stands With Ranchers in Dispute with NPPD

Domina Law Group Stands With Ranchers in Dispute with NPPD

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.

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