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Landowners vs. Keystone XL in Eminent Domain Lawsuit

Energy

Bold Nebraska

By Mark Hefflinger

Three Nebraska landowners will finally see their day in court as the lawsuit they filed against the state is finally moving forward. The suit challenges the constitutionality of the LB 1161 the law used by the state legislature and Gov. Heineman (R-NE) for approving eminent domain and the Keystone XL pipeline route in Nebraska. The State Department must put on hold any review of the pipeline.

After multiple attempts at delay by state officials, Nebraska Judge Stacy announced today that the lawsuit will be heard on September 27. This news 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 the court decision and the Public Service Commission, goes through the extensive routing process laid out for pipelines.

“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 one of the plaintiff landowners, Randy Thompson. "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, lawyer with Domina Law Group. "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.”

“This lawsuit has given hope to scores of landowners who have refused to negotiate easements with TransCanada," said Susan Dunavan, another landowner plaintiff. "Landowner’s rights have been taken from us by delegating eminent domain authority to the Governor.”

“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,” Dunavan concluded.

Thompson, Dunavan and Susan Luebbe are standing up for citizens across the state, and are calling into question the environmental impacts the Keystone XL pipeline would have on Nebraska. Landowners are not accepting a threat to their land, water and livelihood without a fight.

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

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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