Cattle buyer Randy Thompson of Nebraska is one of three landowners who challenged the
constitutionality of a law governing the siting of the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Nebraska.
Foes of the Keystone XL pipeline won
a major victory in Nebraska Wednesday, reports Deena Winter. In 2012, LB 1161 was passed by the state legislature transferring authority to approve the route of pipelines in Nebraska from the utilities-regulating Public Service Commission to the governor and state environmental regulators:
Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled in favor of three Nebraska landowners who filed the lawsuit against the state, issuing an order Wednesday declaring the law unconstitutional and void for divesting the state Public Service Commission of control over the routing of pipelines.
The ruling includes a permanent injunction preventing Gov. Dave Heineman and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality from taking any further action to authorize or advance the pipeline under the law.
Pipeline fighters in Nebraska have long claimed TransCanada, the Canadian company trying to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved, basically wrote the bill. The lawsuit also contended lawmakers didn’t have the authority to grant a foreign company condemnation powers.
Whether this throws a permanent monkey wrench into TransCanada's plans remains to be seen. Obviously, the PSC might approve the route already okayed by the governor.
Continue below the fold for the full story.
Winter quoted David Domina, the representative of the three landowners who sued in the case: “The court’s action effectively rescinds Governor Heineman’s notification to President Barack Obama that Nebraska legal procedures had been satisfied." [...] “Under the court’s ruling, TransCanada has no approved route in Nebraska. TransCanada is not authorized to condemn the property against Nebraska landowners. The pipeline project is at standstill in this state.”
Here's the text of Stacy's ruling and the judge's order:
IT THEREFORE IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED:
1.. LB 1161 violates NEB. CONST. art. IV, § 20 by divesting the PSC of control over the routing decisions of oil pipelines subject to the act and vesting such regulatory control over common carriers in NDEQ and the Governor. Plaintiff's request for declaratory judgment is granted, and LB 1161 is declared unconstitutional and void. Furthennore, the Governor's actions of January 22,2013, having been predicated on an unconstitutional statute, are declared null and void.
2. Plaintiff's request tor inj unctive relief is granted, and the Defendants are pennanently
enjoined from enforcing LB 1161 and from taking any action on the Governor's January 22, 2013 approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline route;
3. Any request for relief by any party which has not specifically been granted by this Order, is denied.