Bold Nebraska, Nebraska landowners, and tribal nations are vowing to carry on their fight against the Keystone XL pipeline, after the state Supreme Court upheld a November, 2017 route approval by the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC).
The court ruled Friday that the PSC “is the agency responsible for determining which pipeline route is in the public interest, and that it did so after months of consideration,” The Canadian Press reports, in a story republished by CBC. “We find there is sufficient evidence to support the PSC’s determination that the (alternative route) is in the public interest,” wrote Justice Jeffrey Funke.
“This court victory is another step forward for this vital pipeline project after far too many years of regulatory delays and hurdles,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
But Bold is undeterred, arguing in an August 23 release that the court decision “ignored due process rights, property rights, and Indigenous sovereignty in a flawed decision on the ‘Mainline Alternative’ route through Nebraska.” The new route “has undergone no legitimate environmental, property rights. or cultural reviews, and was approved without any proper notice to landowners and Ponca members along the new route.”
The release cites two sets of pending legal arguments against the PSC decision—one on behalf of landowners, the other for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and the Yankton Sioux Tribe.
CBC casts the court decision as removing “one of the last major hurdles to the project”. But Bold says the “risky pipeline project’s fate is still very much in doubt, as three separate federal lawsuits continue to proceed that challenge the controversial project’s permits.”
“The Nebraska legislature and a Democratic president can fix this very bad ruling coming out of the Nebraska Supreme Court. At some point in our country’s history, property rights of farmers and sovereign rights of Tribal nations should trump Big Oil’s land grab,” said Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb. “There is nothing American about the KXL pipeline—it is a project with foreign steel and foreign tarsands all headed to the export market,” and “our water is on the line here.”
“Not only did the Court ignore the due process rights of landowners along the route that never got notice or an opportunity to be heard about a pipeline going through their land, but it disregarded the potential destruction of the Tribe’s cultural resources by TransCanada [recently rebranded as TC Energy], including the Ponca Trail of Tears,” said Ponca Tribal Chair Larry Wright, Jr.
“The reality is neither TransCanada nor the PSC has any idea what cultural and historic resources are along the route because surveys have never been done,” he added. “The Ponca Tribe will continue to fight this pipeline that threatens all of our land, water, and resources in Nebraska.”