Three Nebraska landowners who are challenging the state’s use of eminent domain to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on their land against their wishes, will finally get the chance to plead their case in court on September 27.
Until the court case is resolved, the State Department should put its broader review of the pipeline route on hold, say the plaintiffs and their lawyers.
The agency issued a preliminary analysis in March, but its final environmental impact statement – which is being strongly contested – is still pending.
“Completing an environmental review of the tar sands pipeline requires Nebraska have a final route that was lawfully determined,” says Brian Jorde, lawyer with Domina Law Group, which represents the plaintiffs. “With the Nebraska route in doubt, pending resolution of the constitutional challenges to the law that led to its approval, it would be irresponsible to approve a national route when nearly 200 miles are still in question. We encourage our government to honor our legal process and give Nebraska its day in court."
The suit, filed by Randy Thompson, Susan Dunavan and Susan Luebbe, challenges the constitutionality of LB 1161, the law used by the Nebraska legislature and its Republican governor, Dave Heineman, to declare eminent domain and approve the Keystone XL pipeline route through the state.
“If we are successful in our lawsuit TransCanada will have to start the Keystone XL siting process over again through the Nebraska Public Service Commission, so it would be premature for the State Department to issue a final EIS when the route across Nebraska remains very much in question,” says plaintiff landowner Thompson. “As citizens, we are asking the State Department to respect the legal process and our state’s constitution.”
"No one in the State of Nebraska should be threatened by a corporation, foreign or domestic. This lawsuit will ensure that our landowner’s rights are upheld and our state constitution followed. Eminent domain must not be used for private gain. This pipeline is not for Nebraska. It is not for the U.S. It is solely for the benefit of Canada and the oil industry," says Susan Dunavan.
A group of Nobel laureates, a number of top Democratic donors, and more than 145 people from President Obama’s own campaign staff have recently sent the President letters urging him to reject the pipeline. As of late April, a flood of more than 1 million comments have been submitted against it.