The Nebraska Legislature’s 2012 bill allowing TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline Co. to proceed with construction across Nebraska was declared unconstitutional and void. The ruling came Wednesday from Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy.
The Court ruled for three Nebraska landowners who challenged the law. 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 unconstitutional law.
Judge Stacy concluded that LB 1161 unconstitutionally confers upon the Governor of Nebraska authority to approve a crude oil pipeline route, and to authorize the crude oil pipeline company to exercise the power of eminent domain against Nebraska landowners.
Siding with three landowner plaintiffs, the District Court concluded that under Nebraska’s State Constitution, exclusive regulatory control over pipeline companies like TransCanada Keystone XL must be exercised by the Nebraska Public Service Commission, and cannot be given to the Governor.
One of the plaintiffs, Randy Thompson, says today is a day to celebrate for Nebraska landowners.
"We understand that the fight's not over yet," Thompson said.
"But, for right now, today, I'm going to enjoy the moment. It's been a good day in Nebraska."
The ruling could cause more delays in finishing the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries.
But it's a win for Nebraska-based pipeline opponents. They've argued that Heineman exceeded his authority when he approved the route in January 2013.
Attorney General Jon Bruning Appeals Pipeline Ruling
Gov. Dave Heineman issued a statement following Wednesday’s ruling by a Nebraska district court judge regarding pipeline legislation from the 2012 Legislative Session. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has filed a notice to appeal.
“I’m pleased that Attorney General Bruning is appealing this decision. This is an important issue for the State of Nebraska,” said Gov. Dave Heineman.
A copy of the notice of appeal is available here.