Governor Heineman says he has met with state senators interested in calling a special session to address the Keystone XL pipeline controversy.
Calls for a special legislative session to address oil pipeline regulations increased in wake of the public hearings last week on the Keystone XL pipeline that were held by the State Department. TransCanada has a presidential permit application pending before the State Department to build a $7 billion, 1,700 miles oil pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast. The pipeline would carry crude oil made from tar sands near Alberta.
It has become controversial in Nebraska, because the route would run through the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions. State Department officials heard testimony in Lincoln and in Atkinson, which is located in the Sand Hills.
Heineman has written the Obama Administration, stating that he supports the pipeline, but not its route. He has asked the administration to deny the permit unless the route is changed.
Heineman tells reporters he has met with Senator Annette Dubas of Fullerton about her proposed legislation that would regulate oil pipelines.
“She knows she now needs to contact her fellow senators and ask them two questions: are you willing to support a special session? Second question: are you willing to support her bill or something similar to that?” Heineman says. “And she acknowledged that the ball is in her court and it doesn’t make sense to have a special session unless there’s support.”
Heineman says Senator Tony Fulton of Lincoln also attended the meeting. Dubas has circulated her proposal among senators.
Even if enough support is found to convene a special session, Heineman is not sure whether it would succeed in keeping the pipeline out of the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer.
“I think we need to understand, when the President or the Secretary of State approves this permit, they are approving a very specific route,” according to Heineman. “So the question is if they approve the permit and this route and we pass sighting legislation in Nebraska that forces a different route, who trumps?”
Draft legislation is circulating among senators to determine if the support is there for a special session.