Quantcast

Nebraska Supreme Court Clears Way For Keystone XL Pipeline

Energy

In a long-awaited decision that has factored into President Obama's indication that he will veto the Keystone XL pipeline, the Nebraska Supreme Court delivered a split decision on a landowner lawsuit attempting to block the route through Nebraska chosen by TransCanada, the company building the pipeline.

One of the many #NoKXL billboards that were created by Nebraska farmers and ranchers too place on their land in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Click here to see more photos. Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

Last February a Nebraska district court found that a law passed to allow use of eminent domain to build the pipeline was unconstitutional, a decision appealed to the state supreme court. Today, four of the state's seven justices agreed that the three landowner/plaintiffs have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law and that the lower court was correct in finding the law unconstitutional. However, the Nebraska constitution says that a supermajority of five justices is required to find legislation unconstitutional.

LB 1161, the law the landowners were challenging, allowed the state's governor to pass along right of eminent domain in construction of the pipeline to TransCanada. Anti-pipeline activists were particularly incensed because this handed over to a foreign company the right to take Nebraska land for pipeline construction, superseding the rights of local property owners along the route.

One of the many #NoKXL billboards that were created by Nebraska farmers and ranchers too place on their land in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Click here to see more photos. Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

David Domina, the landowners' attorney pointed out that a majority of the judges found that the landowners had standing and that the three that found they didn't refused to vote on the constitutionality issue.

"We had a unanimous four-justice majority declaring the statute unconstitutional," he said. "But the Constitution requires five votes. This means the three justices who we lost with on standing controlled the outcome by refusing to vote on the merits."

Susan Dunavan, one of the landowner plaintiffs, said, “I am thankful to the Nebraska Supreme Court Justices for hearing our case, but I am deeply disappointed that the Judges have ruled against Judge Stacy’s decision regarding the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of LB 1161. I am alarmed that our elected officials are allowed to pass legislation that directly violates the Nebraska State Constitution. A dangerous precedent has been set by this ruling. This ruling is in violation of our landowner rights, denies our right to due process and allows our lawmakers to continue to ignore the Constitution of the State of Nebraska.”

One of the many #NoKXL billboards that were created by Nebraska farmers and ranchers too place on their land in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Click here to see more photos. Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

The decision comes on the same day the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on approval of the pipeline again and it is sure to fuel supporters' insistence that Obama should let the project go forward. He has previously said it would be wrong to grant approval without the Nebraska route question settled, something many pipeline opponents have echoed as well. The pushback has already begin. with Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, saying the decision "wipes out President Obama's last excuse" and the American Petroleum Institute saying he "has no more excuses to delay on deny the Keystone XL pipeline."

Sierra Club's executive director, Michael Brune feels, "The Nebraska Supreme Court’s ruling has no effect on the President’s authority to make the decision to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The President has repeatedly stated that he will reject the tar sands pipeline if it fails to meet the national interest and if it contributes to the climate crisis—and this court ruling has nothing to do with either of those things."

The argument is now likely to pivot to whether 35-5o permanent jobs should take precedence over the potential impact of the pipeline and the dirty tar sands oil it carries on the environment.

One of the many #NoKXL billboards that were created by Nebraska farmers and ranchers too place on their land in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Click here to see more photos. Photo credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska

“This decision does nothing to alter the fundamental facts on Keystone," said Amanda Starbuck of Rainforest Action Network. "Not only does the pipeline present dire threats to indigenous communities, ranchers and the Ogallala aquifer, it miserably fails the administration’s own climate test. The millions of people who have joined the movement to stop this pipeline are looking to President Obama right now to choose the only option compatible with a stable climate: immediate rejection.”

“When you take a punch, you stand up and keep on fighting," said Jane Kleeb of grassroots citizens group Bold Nebraska, which has helped organize the opposition to the pipeline in the state. "We continue to stand with President Obama in his skepticism of the export pipeline and encourage him to reject Keystone XL now. The only decision that will bring peace of mind to landowners is watching the President use the power of the pen to stop this risky pipeline once and for all.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

MSNBC Shows How Keystone XL Indecision Continues Dividing Communities in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota

White House Says Obama Will Veto Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

Obama Tells Colbert: Keystone XL Could Be 'Disastrous'

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new rule that ends limits for hog slaughtering speeds could increase animal suffering, advocates warn. kickers / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Trump's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a new hog slaughtering rule Tuesday that environmental and food safety advocates warn could harm animals, plant workers and public health, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Prehistoric and historic walrus skulls, tusks and bone fragments often wash ashore on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland. Hilmar J. Malmquist

A unique subpopulation of ancient walrus in Iceland was likely hunted to extinction by Vikings shortly after arrival to the region, according to new research.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Drivers make their way on the US 101 freeway on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

In its latest move to undermine action on the climate crisis, the Trump administration will formally rescind California's waiver to set stricter auto emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.

Read More Show Less
Brazilians living in The Netherlands organized a demonstration in solidarity with rainforest protectors and against the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro on Sept. 1 in The Hague, Netherlands. Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Tara Smith

Fires in the Brazilian Amazon have jumped 84 percent during President Jair Bolsonaro's first year in office and in July 2019 alone, an area of rainforest the size of Manhattan was lost every day. The Amazon fires may seem beyond human control, but they're not beyond human culpability.

Read More Show Less
Author, social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein speaking on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2018. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Natalie Hanman

Why are you publishing this book now?

I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This illustration can convey a representation of "eco-anxiety" — "chronic fear of environmental doom." AD_Images / Pixabay

As the climate crisis takes on more urgency, psychologists around the world are seeing an increase in the number of children sitting in their offices suffering from 'eco-anxiety,' which the American Psychological Association described as a "chronic fear of environmental doom," as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
Electric cars recharge at public charging stations. Sven Loeffler / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Ben Jervey

Drivers of electric cars are being unfairly punished by punitive fees in several states, according to a newly published analysis by Consumer Reports. Legislators in 26 states have enacted or proposed special registration fees for electric vehicles (EVs) that the consumer advocacy group found to be more expensive than the gas taxes paid by the driver of an average new gasoline vehicle.

Read More Show Less
A plastic bag sticks to a wire fence in a remote location in the Mourne Mountains, co Down, Northern Ireland. Dave G Kelly / Moment / Getty Images

Ireland is ready to say goodbye to plastic cutlery, plastic balloon sticks and grocery items wrapped in plastic as a way to drastically reduce the amount of waste in Irish landfills, according to the Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE.

Read More Show Less