Domina on KXL Pipeline After Argument to NE Supreme Court
Lincoln, Nebraska – “Today, I completed my responsibilities to Nebraska landowners by presenting to the Nebraska Supreme Court their case to strike an unconstitutional law.” Dave Domina, lawyer for landowners suing the Governor and other State officials, made this observation.
Domina’s statement came shortly after completing his oral argument on the case affecting the KXL pipeline before the Nebraska Supreme Court. Justices of the Court seemed focused on legal points during the presentations of lawyers for both sides. Domina stated, “it is time to talk now about TransCanada as a company, and about the Keystone XL pipeline as a project. We have done what we can to defend the constitution, preserve property rights, and protect land, water, and aquifers, all against corporate and big business overreach.”
Domina’s work on the pipeline case “started with a phone call from a landowner-client” in North Central NE. “He didn’t know why people from a foreign country were threatening a lawsuit unless the landowner signed their papers. I knew nothing of the project then… years ago….” Domina said. So Domina’s firm set up meetings to teach people about mass condemnation, easements, and their constitutional rights.
“We persuaded landowners to work together for better easement terms, and we formed the Nebraska Easement Action Team (“NEAT”) to bring them together traveling thousands of miles holding educational town halls,” he said.
The pipeline controversy led to a Special Session of the Nebraska Legislature, then to action to undo the Special Session. A result was “creation of a very bad law… one we are now challenging in Court.”
Domina filed suit for landowners to challenge the law. “My clients do not want their land taken, dissected, and restricted in its use. They want to be treated fairly if this project gets built.”
When Domina talks about protecting Nebraskans and standing up for the “little guy” against the government and big corporations it is from decades of experience and work doing just that – not off a sheet of political talking points.
The Keystone XL pipeline would be used to transport “tar sand” oil from Canada to the Texas Coast, where it would be processed and sold overseas. The project is highly controversial and opposed by environmental groups and landowner groups. Domina has been hailed as the one who figured out how to protect landowners and water users in Court. His success in Nebraska’s lower court prompted the U.S. State Department and President Barack Obama to withhold a final decision on issuance of a permit to put the pipeline across the U.S. Border.
The Supreme Court in Nebraska consists of 7 justices selected by a non-partisan commission that chooses final candidates from which the Governor makes the appointment. Two of the 7 current justices were appointed by the Governor who is being sued in the case, Dave Heineman.
Domina and his landowner clients argue that the challenged Nebraska law violates the State Constitution. They say the law incorrectly allows the Governor to approve pipeline routes and empower foreign companies to take land for the Keystone XL pipeline. The Public Service Commission is, they say, the only organization that can take such steps. Nebraska’s lower court agreed with Domina when it heard the case.
Domina also argues that the challenged law fails to allow review of pipeline approval in Court, and he claims it incorrectly requires the State to advance money to a private company for a private purpose. Domina argues that this requirement amounts to a pledge of state resources for a private citizen contrary to the State’s constitutional prohibition against pledges of public credit for private parties.
When asked about his position on the Presidential Permit application, a point beyond the scope of the Nebraska lawsuit, Domina said: “Tar sand oil cannot be mined without massive environmental disruption. It produces excess greenhouse gases when mined, and later when refined and used. It is a terribly environmentally damaging substance.”
Domina noted that distinguished scientists from around the world nearly uniformly agree that weather patterns have changed and environmental stability is greatly disrupted. “Science is real. It’s not wise to disregard the world’s great scientific minds.”
A decision is expected from the Nebraska Supreme Court after the November elections.