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Press Release: Landowners Suing Over Unconstitutional KXL Routing in Nebraska Get Day in Court

Three landowners who sued Gov. Dave Heineman over the unconstitutional routing process for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska will present oral arguments before Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy on Friday. The landowners’ Opening Brief, as prepared by attorneys at Domina Law Group, is embedded below. 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 26, 2013
CONTACT: Mark Hefflinger, mark@boldnebraska.org

Landowners Challenging Unconstitutional Keystone XL
Routing Process in Nebraska Get Day in Court

Supporters to gather at rally before and press conference following hearing

Lincoln, Nebraska — Three landowners who sued Gov. Dave Heineman over the unconstitutional routing process for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska will present oral arguments before Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy on Friday.

PHOTOS of landowners (credit to Bold Nebraska):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/sets/72157629862142612/

Randy Thompson:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/sets/72157629017622635/

Susan Dunavan:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/sets/72157629837125708/

Susan Luebbe:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/sets/72157629744741362/

The lawsuit (Thompson v. Heineman) filed by Nebraska landowners Susan Dunavan, Susan Luebbe and Randy Thompson claims the law passed by the Nebraska legislature and Gov. Dave Heineman that fast-tracked approval of the proposed pipeline route in Nebraska — LB 1161 — is unconstitutional.

The case has significant implications on the broader national debate on the permit process for TransCanada’s Keystone XL tarsands pipeline. With the entire Nebraska route in question, the State Department should not finalize the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) until this court reaches its decision. Should the court side with landowners, the entire pipeline routing process in Nebraska goes back to square one. From there, the proper agency as outlined in Nebraska’s state Constitution — the Public Service Commission — would commence the extensive routing process laid out for pipelines.

  • WHAT: Landowners vs. KXL (Thompson v. Heineman) Lawsuit Hearing
  • WHERE: Lancaster County Courthouse, 575 S 10th St., Lincoln, NE
  • WHEN: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013
  • 2:30 p.m. Rally on steps outside courthouse
  • 3:30 p.m. Court hearing
  • 5:00 p.m. (estimated time) Press conference after hearing on courthouse steps

“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,” said Randy Thompson, one of the landowner plaintiffs. “As citizens, we are asking the State Department to respect the legal process and our state’s constitution.”

“Completing an environmental review of a tarsands pipeline requires Nebraska have a final route that was lawfully determined,” stated Brian Jorde, an attorney with Domina Law Group who is representing the landowners. “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.”

“I believe very strongly in our rights as Nebraska citizens. All of us take it extremely personally when we are threatened with eminent domain,” said Susan Luebbe, one of the landowner plaintiffs. “The elected officials of Nebraska should remember that their loyalties should be with Nebraskans first, U.S citizens second, and foreigners last. I owe it to the past, present, and future generations to pursue this action upon our Governor and State Senators to enact common sense laws that are also constitutional.”

“This lawsuit has given hope to scores of landowners who have refused to negotiate easements with TransCanada. Landowners’ rights have been taken from us by delegating eminent domain authority to the Governor,” said Susan Dunavan, another landowner plaintiff. “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 United States.  It is solely for the benefit of Canada and the oil industry.”

Thompson v. Heineman: Plaintiffs Opening Brief

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