5 Things You Must Know About the XL Pipeline Lawsuit

Sept. 3, 2014, 3 a.m. ·

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Katherine Spohn
Deputy Attorney General

A veteran of the State of Nebraska’s legal team, Spohn joined Attorney General Jon Bruning’s staff in 2004, two years after her graduation from the University of Nebraska College of Law. She grew up near Wilber, Nebraska. Her legal specialties include environmental and agricultural law. Bruning has assigned Spohn to some of his highest profile challenges to what he believes is the overreach of the federal government, including the State of Nebraska’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and matters related to the damage settlement with tobacco companies.

Dave Domina
Attorney for landowners

Domina represents the landowners suing the Governor of Nebraska in Thompson v. Heineman. The founding partner of the Omaha-based Domina Law Group, he has been practicing law since passing the bar exam in 1973 following his graduation from the University of Nebraska College of Law. His practice includes both civil and criminal cases. He currently is a candidate for United States Senate and ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor in 1986.

On Friday the Nebraska Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments over which arm of Nebraska state government should approve the route for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The hearing, starting at 9 a.m. CT, will be broadcast live on NET-2 Television and

streamed on NETnebraska.org


After six years of national debate, the Nebraska case has become a crucial test for TransCanada Corp's $5.4 billion pipeline. The project, if completed, would connect Western Canada's tar sands region with Texas oil refineries.

The Friday hearing is scheduled to last only 30 minutes, but that is nearly twice as long as the state’s high court normally allots for appellate cases. In February, Lancaster District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy sided with landowners who want the siting decision left to the five-member Nebraska Public Service Commission. Gov. Dave Heineman asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to overrule.

It will be late fall or even early next year before the Supreme Court issues its opinion, one of the most watched in the court’s history. (If you want to read the legal briefs from both sides, they are available HERE on the Nebraska Supreme Court's website.)

Here are five important things you should know heading into the hearing: