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Judge Sides With Landowners, Strikes Down Eminent Domain Law Allowing Keystone XL

Yesterday the Lancaster County District Court in Lincoln, NE found LB 1161—the law that amended Nebraska state pipeline laws to clear the way for the Keystone XL pipeline by granting the power of eminent domain to Gov. Heineman and in turn TransCananda—unconstitutional and void, according to Bold Nebraska.

"Citizens won today," said Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska. “We beat a corrupt bill that Gov. Heineman and the Nebraska Legislature passed in order to pave the way for a foreign corporation to run roughshod over American landowners."

“TransCanada learned a hard lesson today: never underestimate the power of family farmers and ranchers protecting their land and water."

Graphic courtesy of UC Berkeley

The law, signed by  Gov. Heineman (R-NE) in 2012, was challenged by three Nebraska landowners. Included in the ruling was a permanent injunction preventing Gov. Heineman and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality from taking any further action to authorize or advance the Keystone XL under the unconstitutional law. 

"Laws must be passed to protect the land, water and landowners rights regarding eminent domain and the right to due process," said plaintiff and Nebraska landowner Susan Dunavan.

"I commend Judge Stacy for her diligence in examining the serious issues of this case and applaud her for upholding citizens rights given by them by the Nebraska State Constitution."

"[TransCanada] came out here like a bunch of bullies and tried to force it down our throats," said plaintiff and Nebraska rancher and landowner Randy Thompson. "They told us there was nothing we could do to stop it." 

Yesterday's ruling could have significant implications on the final permit approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which now rests with President Obama, who will decide if it serves in the national interest. 

The President has faced intense pressure from the Canadian government to approve the controversial project that would carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. President Obama has said his approval will only come if it can be proven that the pipeline would “not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”  

Yesterday a meeting of the three North American leaders—President Obama, Prime Minister Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto—took place in Toluca, Mexico, where Harper again pushed the issue of Keystone XL, according to The Globe and Mail. During a press conference after the summit, President Obama seemed unswayed, reportedly saying, “Keystone will proceed along the path that’s already been set for it.” 

The President also said that all decisions—and not just Keystone XL—should take greenhouse gas emissions into account, again highlighting the importance of tackling climate change.

Watch the Ed Show from Feb. 19 where Ed Schultz and an environmental panel discusses the importance of this victory.

Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.

 

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