Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Nebraska environmental trust fund grants challenged in court
editor's pick topical alert

Nebraska environmental trust fund grants challenged in court

  • Updated
  • 0

Supporters of the state's environmental trust fund have filed a lawsuit alleging that the Nebraska Environmental Trust Board violated state law in recently awarding trust fund grants to help fund installation of ethanol pumps at privately owned service stations.

The action was filed in Lancaster County District Court by W. Don Nelson and Jon Oberg, both of whom have held positions in state government during public service careers.

The lawsuit alleges the board violated provisions of the environmental trust act, which direct that funding grants, financed primarily by the Nebraska Lottery, be directed to projects that "conserve, enhance and restore natural environments in the state."

The board denied funding for five projects that had been recommended by the trust's grant committee, including a saline wetlands project proposed by the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department, in order to steer funding to Green Plains Inc., a large ethanol producer, the lawsuit alleges.

Citizens group forms to defend environmental trust fund

That $1.8 million in funding would be used to pay half of the purchase price and expense of buying ethanol pumps and storage tanks and installing them in privately owned retail service stations.

The lawsuit alleges that "expenditure of state funds for private beneficiaries that can afford to pay costs of those benefits without assistance" is directly contrary to the requirements of the environmental trust act. 

Gov. Pete Ricketts has defended the board's action, citing the environmental value of using ethanol as a motor vehicle fuel. The governor appoints nine members of the board.

The vote to steer funding to the ethanol producer was approved on a 7-2 vote, but the lawsuit argues that vote failed to meet the Nebraska Environmental Trust Act requirement for majority approval by the 14-member board.

What's that scratching noise? It's a Nebraska woman winning a $200,000 lottery prize

The board also failed to conform to open meeting requirements during the process, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit seeks a court order voiding those awards.

Former Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler heads a new citizens group, Friends of the Nebraska Environmental Trust, that has been formed to advocate for compliance with the trust's environmental mission.

Don Walton: Doris Kearns Goodwin says demonstrators will need to connect inside
Osborne, Ricketts warn against casino gambling's social costs

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSdon


Get Government & Politics updates in your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

  • Updated

The Nebraska Democratic Party does not support the winner of the party's May primary election, Chris Janicek of Omaha, and instead has drafted Preston Love Jr. of Omaha as its designated write-in candidate to oppose Republican Sen. Ben Sasse.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News