Sometimes we need to get serious, and this eminent domain story about the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been in the news quite a lot over the years, won for the prime spot of blog post of the week.
If you will remember, there was an approximately $8 billion, Canada-to-Texas pipeline that was to be built. It saw lots of opposition from many parties including: property owners, environmental groups, and even several Native American tribes.
Under President Trump’s administration, the pipeline has won support from congressional Republicans-who approved a federal permit for the project. Those in support of the Keystone XL pipeline included business groups who claimed it would create jobs. It was also said to reduce the risk of shipping oil by trains that can derail.
This is a big pipeline, which if completed, would carry oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. It would then connect to an existing pump station in Steele City, Nebraska and then continue through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas until it reaches Gulf Coast refineries.
The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the developer of the Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t have to reimburse attorneys who defended Nebraska landowners against the company’s efforts to gain access to their land through eminent domain.
In 2015, TransCanada Inc. filed an eminent domain lawsuits against 71 Nebraska landowners. TransCanada dropped its eminent domain claims in Nebraska after pipeline opponents raised significant questions about whether the law the company invoked could survive a court challenge.
It’s a significant amount of money that has been decided upon, especially if you are the homeowner. Dave Domina, the Omaha based attorney who represented several landowners says that TransCanada owes his clients $350,000 in attorney fees. Domina says that TransCanada lost the case, effectively, and that they should pay the landowner attorney fees.
So what happened in Nebraska with the original case? In 2012, a law was passed under Governor Dave Heineman, to approve a route through Nebraska, bypassing an independent state commission that was legally entitled to review such projects. Probably taking a more traditional route for getting permission, TransCanada submitted a new application to the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which approved a slightly different route than the one TransCanada wanted. This lead to another appeal from landowners. That case is expected to go before the Nebraska Supreme Court, where oral arguments will be heard in the fall.
James Powers, the attorney for TransCanada, said that the landowners failed to prove that they paid the attorneys, or were legally indebted.