Nebraska State District Court Judge Mark Kozisek issued a temporary injunction in O'Neill today.
On January 16, 2015, landowners filed two lawsuits to halt TransCanada’s land acquisition. Four days later, TransCanada filed about 90 eminent domain cases across Nebraska against landowners.
Judge Kozisek’s temporary injunction order in Holt County District Court today halts this process in the counties involved in the case, which includes Antelope County landowners along the proposed TransCanada Keystone Pipeline XL route.
The order followed a hearing in O'Neill which, for the first time in Nebraska, the landowners’ lawyers squared off directly against lawyers for TransCanada.
In previous litigation, landowners were pitted against the State Attorney General. The change came when the State Supreme Court was unable to decide the merits of constitutional issues about the law TransCanada must rely on to acquire land in Nebraska.
Dave Domina and Brian Jorde appeared in court for the landowners.
"We have always known our constitutional law arguments are very strong," Domina said, following the hearing. "The law holds things in their status quo until substantial issues like those we have raised are decided. We expected the Temporary Injunction Order to be issued as it was. In fact, as those in court could see, TransCanada recognized that the Temporary Injunction was a virtual certainty, and the Order was not contested seriously, today.”
Domina, Jorde and their landowner clients contend the Nebraska Legislature improperly empowered the State’s Governor, who has now left office, authority to give TransCanada a political favor. The Legislature passed a law permitting bypass of the State’s Public Service Commission -- the body required by the State Constitution to regulate common carriers, including pipelines.
The second case filed in January by landowners is in York County. A hearing will be held there on proceedings identical to those heard by Judge Kozisek. Jorde said he thinks an Order like the one issued by Judge Kozisek is likely to be issued there.