The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Keystone XL pipeline route in Nebraska is moving forward with a decision by Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy.
Three landowners sued Governor Heineman and the State of Nebraska in 2012 arguing LB 1161 violated the Nebraska State Constitution that makes it clear common carriers are regulated by the Public Service Commission. LB 1161 took that authority away from the PSC and instead gave the Department of Environmental Quality, an arm of the Governor's office, authority to review the route and gave Gov. Heineman exclusive authority to approve a pipeline route thus giving TransCanada immediate eminent domain powers. LB 1161 further violates the state's constitution by offering no due process for eminent domain or an avenue to challenge the routing process.
"TransCanada and some of our elected officials like Lee Terry continue to say everything is fine in Nebraska and that everyone is fine with the route, our citizen lawsuit was filed to ensure they are held accountable for an unconstitutional law and a flawed routing process," said Randy Thompson, Nebraska landowner and plaintiff.
The lawsuit is on firm ground and was strengthened this week with Judge Stacy's ruling. The State of Nebraska, through Attn. Gen. Bruning, attempted to have the case dismissed two separate times with the citizens winning each challenge.
Judge Stacy also allowed the citizens' request to add an additional claim to the lawsuit arguing if Governor Heineman acted under an unconstitutional law then any acts flowing from Governor's approval of the Keystone XL route are also unconstitutional. This means, if the citizens win the lawsuit, the route and eminent domain process for TransCanada are thrown out and TransCanada must go through the PSC to get their route approved and they don't have eminent domain powers in Nebraska until the PSC process is completed and PSC approval occurs.
"A foreign corporation should not be able to write new rules for their project in our state," said Susan Dunavan, landowner and plaintiff. "We have faith in the judicial branch of our government will side with our state's constitution and ensure the laws we put forth protect our basic property rights and due process."
There is a July 19th Court Hearing at 3pm in Lincoln where a schedule for the trial will be determined.
Bold Nebraska maintains a website with updates on the lawsuit including the recent ruling from Judge Stacy at: http://boldnebraska.org/lawsuit
Additional Information at Domina Law Group: http://www.dominalaw.com/transcanada