Quantcast
Energy

Nebraska Supreme Court Clears Way For Keystone XL Pipeline

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'

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!