A trial date of Sept. 27 has been set for a challenge to the state law that approved the Nebraska portion of the route for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy set the date Friday after conferring in chambers with attorneys for three landowner plaintiffs and the Nebraska Attorney General’s office.

Gov. Dave Heineman, State Treasurer Don Stenberg and Mike Linder, director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, are the defendants in a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of LB1161, passed in the 2012 legislative session.

The plaintiffs are Susan Luebbe of Stuart, Randy Thompson of Martell and Susan Dunavan of McCool Junction.

Dunavan, Thompson and Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska met with Omaha attorneys David Domina and Brian Jorde of Domina Law Firm after the judge set the trial date.

Dunavan said she felt encouraged that Stacy had rejected two earlier attempts by the attorney general’s office to get the suit dismissed.

“The fact that it was not thrown out means we have our effort and we have our facts in line that they cannot dispute,” she said.

Kleeb said the main issues are the Legislature trying to redirect regulative authority for the pipeline from the Nebraska Public Service Commission to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and eminent domain authority handed to TransCanada in the same law.

“For me, the biggest thing is that LB1161 violates the state constitution,” she said.

Thompson said it could take 60 to 90 days for Stacy to rule after the trial ends.

“If we win, then TransCanada will be forced to start over with the entire siting process and the application process and they’ll have to go through the Public Service Commission,” he said.

The attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Reach Art Hovey at 402-473-7223 or ahovey@journalstar.com