Nebraska Judge Halts TransCanada's Use Of Eminent Domain For Keystone Route

A sign marks the ground covering TransCanada's Keystone I pipeline outside of Steele City, Nebraska. The Keystone XL pipeline
A sign marks the ground covering TransCanada's Keystone I pipeline outside of Steele City, Nebraska. The Keystone XL pipeline is set to meet the first pipeline at this location. From Oil and Water: Following the route of the Keystone XL pipeline through the USA. (Photo by Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

A Nebraska judge has issued a temporary injunction barring TransCanada from using eminent domain to force landowners to sell rights allowing the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on their property.

Pipeline owner TransCanada said it will suspend all eminent domain proceedings, including those against landowners who are not among those who sued the company. The company said in a statement that it will seek an accelerated schedule for a trial.

TransCanada filed paperwork in late January to begin using eminent domain to acquire land along the pipeline path from owners who didn't agree to sell rights to the company. This came shortly after the Nebraska state Supreme Court issued a decision that essentially cleared the way for the pipeline, though it left some open legal questions about the process the state had used to approve the route.

A group of landowners affected by the eminent domain claims filed a lawsuit last month in Holt County District Court and vow to keep fighting to throw out the state law that allowed the governor to approve the pipeline route.

Jane Kleeb, director of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska, said in a statement Thursday that the temporary injunction is a "major win for landowners."

TransCanada said it had hoped to resolve the legal issues quickly. "During Keystone XL’s six-and-a-half year review, we have followed every local, state and federal process, even as the goal posts have shifted numerous times," TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said in a statement. "All we have asked for is a clearly defined approval process for Keystone XL."

The company said that 90 percent of Nebraska landowners along the route have accepted "generous" offers to allow the pipeline on their land.  "With that said, we are committed to working respectfully with all landowners as shown by today’s decision to stay eminent domain actions until there is a final resolution of the plaintiffs’ claims," said Cooper.

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