Landowners on the steps of the Holt County, NE courthouse after Thursday’s hearing that halted eminent domain against their land. (Photo by Mark Hefflinger)

Yesterday, landowners won a huge victory when a Holt County, Nebraska District Court judge halted TransCanada’s attempt to use eminent domain to take their land for the Keystone XL export pipeline. Many thanks go out to landowners’ attorneys Dave Domina and Brian Jorde for their excellent work fighting against eminent domain for private gain.

What the ruling means:

All of the eminent domain claims that TransCanada has filed against landowners over the past month are now put on hold, until this case is eventually heard by the Nebraska Supreme Court — in a timeline that could take another 12 months, or longer.

Chip in $10 to help fund the landowners’ fight against eminent domain and Keystone XL.

The last time landowners were before the Nebraska Supreme Court (Thompson v. Heineman), 4 of the 7 justices agreed with us that the law (LB 1161) that granted TransCanada eminent domain authority is unconstitutional, but under state law we needed a supermajority of 5 justices to win on a constitutional issue.

However, the other 3 justices didn’t even rule on the issue of constitutionality, because they said the landowners didn’t have “standing” to bring the case since eminent domain claims hadn’t yet been brought against them when the case was filed, back in 2012.

Now that TransCanada has invoked eminent domain against farmers and ranchers on the proposed pipeline route, the issue of standing is resolved, and our legal team is confident that one or more additional Supreme Court justices will side with us this time around and provide the 5th vote we need for a win.

Faced with the odds stacked in landowners’ favor, TransCanada’s attorneys caved yesterday and agreed to put a halt on every eminent domain claim they have filed throughout Nebraska while our case makes its way back up to the state Supreme Court.

What this case means for Keystone XL:

A landowners’ win at the Supreme Court would leave TransCanada with no approved route in Nebraska and no power of eminent domain. The company would have to start over from scratch and apply for a permit for Keystone XL with the state Public Service Commission. That process could also take upwards of a year, and would include new public hearings that would see strong challenges from Pipeline Fighters.

Stop eminent domain for private gain FOR GOOD:

We also have an opportunity right now to stop eminent domain for private gain for good. Nebraska State Sen. Ernie Chambers introduced a bill (LB 473) in the legislature that would repeal the eminent domain powers LB 1161 gave TransCanada to seize farmers’ and ranchers’ land to build Keystone XL.

A hearing on Sen. Chambers’ bill is scheduled for March 11, during which we’ll deliver a petition with your signatures to Nebraska state senators.

Add your name to stand in solidarity with landowners fighting eminent domain to protect our land and water for our grandchildren:

Sign the petition: No eminent domain for private gain.

We’ll celebrate yesterday’s court victory with landowners, while they breathe a sigh of relief as the stresses of upcoming court dates and visits from county land appraisers have been halted, for now.

Read the court’s ruling below:

Temporary Injunction Halts Eminent Domain