TransCanada has moved to use eminent domain in Nebraska to obtain the property necessary to build Keystone XL even as a new lawsuit against the company has been filed.
Attorney Dave Domina represents a landowner from Holt County, another from York County, fighting TransCanada’s eminent domain proceedings.
The new lawsuit carries the same contention as the old lawsuit thrown out by the Nebraska Supreme Court, hoping the technicality that doomed the previous lawsuit isn’t present in the new one. The court ruled the landowners challenging the constitutionality of the state law that guided creation of the Keystone XL route through Nebraska failed to have standing to bring the lawsuit.
Domina tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX standing won’t be an issue in this latest legal action. Both landowners bringing suit face eminent domain proceedings by TransCanada.
Domina says the suit claims the contract with TransCanada doesn’t adequately spell out the liability for oil spills on the pipeline easement.
“The other thing is that it provides a one-time payment so that a foreign, for-profit company can make a daily profit,” according to Domina.
TransCanada Keystone project manager Andrew Craig dismisses such rhetoric and says the company expects more legal action from what he calls paid opponents to the project.
Still, he expects at least 21 landowners to resist any attempts to negotiate easements for Keystone XL, because they object to any development of fossil fuels. He is not sure about the motivations of other landowners who have yet to reach agreement with TransCanada.
“So, that number may grow up to 30 or so,” Craig tells Nebraska Radio Network. “As we sit here today, there are 21 landowners in the state of Nebraska that I believe it is unlikely that we’re able to reach a voluntary agreement with.”
Easements have been obtained in Montana and South Dakota for Keystone XL proposed to be built from western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, where it will connect with the lower portion of the pipeline that is already pushing crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. Keystone XL is estimated to cost $8 billion to build. It eventually could carry 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
Craig says TransCanada has been working with more than one thousand landowners along the route, more than 500 in Nebraska alone.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this report.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports. [1 minute]