October 25, 2014

Landowners criticize TransCanada during eminent domain hearing (AUDIO)

Eminent_domain_hearingA legislative hearing on a bill to strengthen property owner rights during eminent domain proceedings turned into an anti-Keystone XL rally at the state Capitol.

Senator Annette Dubas of Fullerton told the Judiciary Committee the state’s experience with TransCanada prompted her to sponsor LB 152.

“It is no secret that my interest in this topic came from our experience with the Keystone pipeline project,” Dubas informed committee members during a public hearing on her bill. “Many landowners were astonished that what they perceived to be a private, foreign company could have the right to take their property.”

LB 152 would require a government body or company must provide a property owner with complete information about the condemnation proceedings. Courts would be instructed to consider the purpose for which the property would be used in assessing damages. Property could not be condemned for projects that are later scrapped.

The bill would require a plan detailing the public purpose of the project be presented to property owners. All necessary permits would have to have been obtained before the power of eminent domain could be used.

Susan Dunavan of York said she has had to go through eminent domain proceedings twice.

“No landowner or citizen in the state of Nebraska should have to face the threat of eminent domain condemnation by a condemner who doesn’t have their permits in place or has not proven their public purpose,” according to Dunavan.

Others more directly criticize TransCanada, accusing the Canadian corporation of using bullying tactics to acquire land and telling lawmakers a foreign company shouldn’t be given eminent domain rights.

Donna Roller of York County accused TransCanada of using any and all tactics to acquire the land needed to build Keystone XL.

“And I have witnessed so much in the last year and it is a total disregard for the citizens of this state as far as our rights to our property and the health of our water,” Roller stated.

TransCanada proposes building a $7 billion oil pipeline from western Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. It would stretch 1,700 miles. Gov. Dave Heineman recently approved a re-route of Keystone XL through Nebraska, moving the pipeline away from the Sand Hills. The project still must win approval from the federal government to proceed.

 AUDIO: Sen. Annette Dubas testifies before the Judiciary Committee. [8 min.]