By: Leah Uko
LINCOLN (KPTM) – Dozens of people made their presence known outside and inside of the Lancaster County Courthouse in Lincoln on Friday. They were there to support three landowners who challenged a law, LB1161, that would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to cross through land owned by everyday people.
"I think it's a rare opportunity when ordinary citizens have a chance to stand up against the political influence of these major, mega oil companies," said Randy Thompson.
Thomspon, Suze Luebbe and Susan Dunavan filed a lawsuit against the state of Nebraska for giving governor Dave Heineman the power to approve or deny proposed routes through the state, rather than going through the Public Service Commission.
"We had an opportunity here, squandered by the legislature," said lawyer, Dave Domina who was representing the plaintiffs.
Domina argued that lawmakers violated the constitution when they gave the governor authority over the law. He said that only legislature has authority to use eminent domain—not just the governor.
Domina also said there was no judicial review of the law and that the state would improperly extend its credit to pay for the pipeline to come through.
If Lancaster County Court District Judge Stephanie Stacy deems the LB1161 unconstitutional, TransCanada, the Canadian company trying to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved, will have to start the process over and draft new routes from scratch.
Stacy rejected the attorney general's attempts to throw the case out twice. She said in court that she would review both sides of the case and rule later.
The Keystone XL Pipeline Project will cost $5.3-billion and is the largest infrastructure project currently proposed in the United States. 194.5 miles of the proposed 1,179 –mile, 36-inch-diameter pipeline is proposed to go through Nebraska. It is proposed to start in Hardisty, Alberta in Canada and extend south to Steele City, Nebraska.
Those who support the project have stated that the project jobs during construction for equipment operators, welders, mechanics, truck drivers and laborers. They also have stated that approximately 7,000 U.S. jobs are being supported in manufacturing the steel pipe and the thousands of fitting, valves, pumps and control devices required for a major oil pipeline.
TransCanada stated on its Webster that once the pipeline is in operation, property taxes will generate from communities across the country.
On http://keystone-xl.com/about/jobs-and-economic-benefits/, it states that the pipeline will support the growth of crude oil production in the United States by allowing American oil producers more access to the large refining markets in the Midwest and along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
But opponents of the pipeline argue that because the pipeline will serve as a way to transport crude oil from Canada—which is outside the country—the U.S. will still depend on other countries.
They also argue that the jobs the project will create are short-term and that once the project is complete, many of those construction jobs will not be needed anymore.
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