A state law went into force in Nebraska in April that transferred pipeline approval from the Public Service Commission, the agency that controls utilities, to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and Gov. Dave Heineman.
David Domina, an attorney representing the landowners, provided a filing of the suit to Bloomberg News. It states the April law "violates the doctrine of separation of powers" and doesn't "provide for notice to affected parties, thereby depriving them of due process of law."
Pipeline company TransCanada plans to build its Keystone XL pipeline from tar sands oil fields in Canada to Nebraska. It expects to start construction on the domestic leg, which would extend to southern U.S. refineries, as early as June.
The company had to reapply for a federal permit to build the section of the pipeline from Canada after lawmakers in Nebraska objected to an original route that would've passed through an area containing a key groundwater aquifer. TransCanada has since submitted a preferred alternative to the state.
Domina said the lawsuit doesn't mention TransCanada.