A lawsuit claims the Unicameral acted unconstitutionally this year when it approved legislation that would pave the way for an alternative route for the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska.
LB 1161 applies to all oil pipelines proposed for Nebraska, but has a direct impact on the Keystone XL pipeline TransCanada proposes to stretch from the tar sands of western Canada to the oil refineries of the Gulf Coast. Objections to the $7 billion pipeline’s proposed route through the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills of Nebraska erupted last year, stalling the project.
The lawsuit, Thompson v. Heineman, claims LB 1161 is unconstitutional, because it delegates authority of a common carrier to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality when the state constitution delegates the responsibility to the Public Service Commission, it violates separation of powers by failing to provide for judicial review, it violates due process requirements, and it constitutes special legislation by benefitting a single company.
The lead attorney in the lawsuit, Dave Domina, says he has asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to take up the lawsuit directly. As a backup, the lawsuit has also been filed in Lancaster County District Court. Domina represents three Nebraska landowners
Three Nebraska landowners filing the lawsuit: Randy Thompson, Susan Dunavan and Susan Luebbe. Thompson has long been a critic of Keystone and TransCanada. His face adorned posters and placards used during public hearings last year, voicing opposition.
The legislature acted this year to revise legislation approved during a special session last year in which TransCanada reached agreement with Nebraska to re-route the pipeline away from the Sand Hills. It still would cross portions of the Ogallala Aquifer.
President Obama denied TransCanada a permit it needs to cross the border into the United States, but the president allowed TransCanada to reapply, which it has. TransCanada has been working with the Nebraska DEQ and HDR of Omaha to determine a new route with the company picking up the $2 million cost of the new study.
For link to PDF file of lawsuit, click here.
AUDIO: Conference call held to explain lawsuit against LB 1161, oil pipeline siting legislation. [14:40]