Posted By: Megan Palera
It's a big legal hurdle for three Nebraska landowners. A year after challenging the state's pipeline routing law, a judge announced Wednesday that they're lawsuit will be heard in court.
Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy did not rule on the merits of the case, but said opponents should be allowed to present their evidence and arguments.
Jane Kleeb, with BOLD Nebraska, is working with those 3 landowners.
"For us all along, challenging LB 1161 was an issue of fairness. We believe that the state legislature and the governor did not pass a constitutional law," Kleeb said.
That law passed in 2011 during a special legislative session. It paved the way for the project's new route through Nebraska and away from the environmentally sensitive Sandhills. In January, Governor Dave Heineman gave the re-route the final green light.
"At the end of the day based on energy independence, the economic impact and the environmental impact I approved the route," the Governor said.
Wednesday's ruling is the second time Judge Stacy has rejected the state's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. So the scrutiny over TransCanada's proposed $7 billion pipeline continues. Now three landowners and the state of Nebraska will head to trial in August.
"Even if the president were to make a decision tomorrow, the Nebraska portion could not be built while this lawsuit is going," Kleeb said.
The pipeline still needs a presidential permit because it crosses the international border.