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

Protests led by Native Hawaiians have blocked the construction of a telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea on Big Island. Actions for Mauna Kea / Facebook

By Jessica Corbett

A week after construction was scheduled to resume on a long-delayed $1.4 billion telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea — a dormant volcano on Hawaii's Big Island — thousands of Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain sacred continued to protest the planned observatory.

Read More Show Less
California Condor at soaring at the Grand Canyon. Pavliha / iStock / Getty Images

North America's largest bird passed an important milestone this spring when the 1,000th California condor chick hatched since recovery efforts began, NPR reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
The Roloway monkey has been pushed closer to extinction. Sonja Wolters / WAPCA / IUCN

The statistics around threatened species are looking grim. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 9,000 new additions to its Red List of threatened species, pushing the total number of species on the list to more than 105,000 for the first time, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images

The campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump has found a new way to troll liberals and sea turtles.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Night long exposure photograph of wildifires in Santa Clarita, California. FrozenShutter / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristy Dahl

Last week, UCS released Killer Heat, a report analyzing how the frequency of days with a dangerously hot heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity the National Weather Service calls the "feels like" temperature — will change in response to the global emissions choices we make in the coming decades.

Read More Show Less
A Zara store in Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Timahaowemi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Green is the new black at Zara.

The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara's parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Whether you enjoy running recreationally, competitively, or as part of your overall wellness goals, it's a great way to improve your heart health.

Read More Show Less