LINCOLN — Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline are seeking reconsideration of a ruling by the Nebraska Supreme Court a week ago that validated an alternative route selected for the controversial project across Nebraska.

In a motion for rehearing filed Thursday, opponents maintain that pipeline developer TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) had agreed, in arguments in a federal lawsuit, with one of the opponent’s main legal arguments — that the pipeline firm had applied for only one route across Nebraska, the so-called preferred route, and that a state agency had no power to choose an alternative.

Brian Jorde, an Omaha attorney who represents several landowners opposed to the pipeline, said that the comments, by a TC Energy attorney, came during arguments in federal court in Montana in January. That was more than a year after the Nebraska Public Service Commission voted to OK a “mainline alternative route” across Nebraska, rather than the preferred route advanced by TC Energy.

A TC Energy attorney, Peter Steenland, told a federal judge that the preferred route was the one the company was “seeking” and that the alternative route wasn’t one being “advocated” for and was only included in their application because “they had to put something in the report.”

Jorde said the Supreme Court should reconsider its ruling and rehear the case because the comments by Steenland were contrary to arguments made by TC Energy in the Nebraska case. He added that as soon as he learned about the Steenland comments, he offered TC Energy a chance to jointly present the new information to the Nebraska court, but the request was turned down.

Representatives of TC Energy did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Thursday evening.

But in the Nebraska case, attorneys for the company had said that the mainline alternative route was legitimately provided as an option, and that the Public Service Commission’s job was to pick the best route across the state.

TC Energy attorney Jim Powers also argued that even some opponents of the pipeline had said the mainline alternative route was superior.

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Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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