The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that the November 20, 2017, Nebraska Public Service Commission approval of an alternative route for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska will stand. The ruling came just weeks after a Montana Federal Court ruling preventing construction of the controversial pipeline.  It also came after President Trump revived the project by approving a permit for Trans Canada to cross the U.S. Canadian border.  President Barack Obama had previously denied that permit.

 Friday’s Nebraska Supreme Court opinion followed oral argument in November, 2018, and  the four-day Nebraska Public Service Commission hearing in August 2017, in which over ninety witnesses and tens of thousands of pages were presented for and against the project.

 Attorney David Domina, representing numerous landowners, argued that the PSC’s proposed route should be denied because TransCanada had neither applied for nor requested approval of the so called “Mainline Alternative Route”.  He argued that the PSC could only approve an application that was actually before it for approval. 

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the PSC did have the powers to approve the alternative route for which TransCanada failed to request approval of or apply for.

 Domina also argued throughout the process that the pipeline is not in the public interest, that there are no “on or off ramps” for Nebraskans to actually use the pipeline, that there is no fixed entry point into Nebraska, and that Trans Canada’s claims of increased tax revenues and jobs simply were not true.   “However, we will respect the Court’s decision and prepare for the next steps,” said  Domina.


Attorney Brian Jorde, also part of the Domina Firm, said the Supreme Court ruling revealed that 83 miles of the PSC’s alternate route (shown in red on the map above) has not been the subject of any sort of environmental impact study.

“The 83 miles of this alleged new proposed alternate route have never been studied whatsoever, which therefore means there will be other legal challenges” he said.

Several lawsuits are still pending against the pipeline.  Jorde said further study will be needed to determine whether the 83 mile issue will be added to one of them, or whether it will be a separate issue placed before the State Department of Environmental Quality or the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

 Nebraska has been ground zero for legal challenges to the proposed KXL pipeline for the past nine years.  Opponents, represented by Domina’s firm, have filed three constitutional challenge lawsuits.  TransCanada has filed nearly 60 condemnation lawsuits.

GOVERNOR SAYS “Build The Pipeline”

Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following  the Nebraska Supreme Court decision affirming the Public Service Commission’s approved route for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Today’s decision is the last step in a decade-long review process that reflects the deliberation and input of countless stakeholder groups and individuals.  It’s well-known that the Keystone XL pipeline will bring great-paying jobs and property tax revenue to the counties along the route.  It’s time to build the pipeline.”

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