Keystone in Nebraska, Revisited.

Great Seal of the State of Nebraska

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I’m beginning to benefit greatly from reading Grassroots in Nebraska (Thanks, Guys!) While I haven’t changed my position on the Keystone XL pipeline, yet anyway. I am thinking about it.

Grassroots raises troubling issues here, not for the first time but, for the first time I’ve seen them.

As we’ve noted here, more than once, our primary interest in the Keystone XL pipeline project was the conduct of Nebraska’s elected officials at both the state and federal levels, and serious concerns about property rights. We did not have an overall position on the project and we did not recommend any particular action. Our simple purpose was to expose, as widely as possible, the truth according to all of the information that we had available so that Nebraskans would learn who is representing them (or not) in office.

It was our analysis that Nebraskans’ primary concern is the property rights issue; people are particularly repulsed that a private foreign company has the power under our state laws to invoke eminent domain.

We did not call for a special session of the State Legislature because:

  • Too many legislators who had previous opportunity to act chose not to; they were either deliberately obtuse, at best, or actively worked to bury information about the State of Nebraska’s ability to exert its sovereignty.
  • The eminent domain problems within Nebraska’s statutes have not been mentioned by any legislators expressing concern, or by the Governor, so it was unlikely to be dealt with by them during the special session.
  • We were concerned that legislators would create or expand a state commission with appointed or hired members not accountable to the people of Nebraska, which would result in yet another morass of bureaucracy. In addition to poor stewardship of taxpayers’ money, elected officials would be provided “political cover”. Ultimately, we feared, it would prove ineffective now and in future.

Nebraska’s officials have already placed the State in an intractable position…

  • No action meant no fix for the property rights problem, no exertion of state sovereignty, inadequate reimbursement to counties for expenses caused by project, etc., and continued concerns about the pipeline’s placement through Holt County, which arguably, is a point of vulnerability along the route.
  • Action as proposed still meant no protection for property owners, high potential for running afoul of the Constitution (ex post facto1.  and “special legislation”2), and delays resulting in a costly lawsuit filed by TransCanada (bad faith3) and now, reportedly, potential lawsuits filed by other states in the line of the project.

Prior to this past weekend, at most, we would’ve recommended concerned Nebraskans focus on a “Hail Mary” effort to impact the eminent domain problem during the special session of the Unicameral. But, in researching some questions associated with this, we discovered some very disturbing information. It’s been difficult to absorb.

You really do need to read the entire article and follow the references.

A lot of what troubles me here is that the smell of crony capitalism is very strong.

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

3 Responses to Keystone in Nebraska, Revisited.

  1. Freedom, by the way says:

    A foreign entity should not be allowed to have eminent domain. Prooperty rights are paramount. Why not treat the pipeline like cell towers? Property owners retain full title to their property and lease the land to the company for a generouls annual fee? Stiill not convinced that the pipeline is good/needed but folks deserve the best compensaton avaiable if it is to go through.

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  2. I agree on eminent domain. Eminent domain should never be used to benefit private owners and rarely for anything else. Apparently our law is quite weak. That’s something we need to work on.

    I see no reason why a pipeline needs to own the land, a lease or even easement should be sufficient with clauses guaranteeing access and remuneration for damage caused.

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