U.S. News

Nebraska landowners sue Keystone XL developer

(Reuters) - Seven Nebraska landowners on Friday filed suits against the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, alleging that a state law that cleared the way for the massive project violates the state’s constitution.

The legal action comes a week after the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in support of the pipeline, which aims to take Canadian oil to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast and has become a point of contention between the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress and the Obama administration.

The Nebraskans, who filed suits in York and Holt counties, alleged that TransCanada Corp used the state law to threaten eminent domain against their land this month, according to court filings published online by the Domina Law Group representing the landowners.

The suits call for an injunction against the state law, which would keep TransCanada from building on the land.

“We are committed to getting an answer to the question: is the current Nebraska law constitutional or not under our State structure,” attorney Dave Domina said in a statement.

TransCanada could not be immediately reached for comment, but company spokesman Mark Cooper told Bloomberg that the filing was not a surprise.

“We recognize that some people will continue to oppose this project no matter what process is followed in order to put up roadblocks. We accept that,” Cooper told Bloomberg.

The Nebraska Supreme Court said last Friday that it was divided and could not reach a substantive decision on the state law, leaving the legislation in place by default.

Republicans are pushing for the pipeline, a project that they say will create jobs and provide energy security for the United States.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill for the pipeline and the Senate is scheduled to vote on it this month, despite the threat of veto from President Barack Obama, who has questioned how beneficial it will be for the country.

The U.S. State Department told other federal agencies on Friday that it needs to hear their views on the pipeline by Feb. 2 as officials conclude their assessment of the project.

Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Pravin Char