Gov. Dave Heineman has written the assistant United States Secretary of State seeking clarification of the state’s authority over the route the Keystone XL pipeline will take.
Heineman said during a Capitol news conference that Nebraska needs the clarification if it is to call a special legislation session and address the issue. As for the likelihood of a special session, Heineman says that’s still up to lawmakers.
“Right now, that’s in the hands of the legislature,” according to Heineman. “If they call me up and say they’ve got 33 votes, we’ll talk.”
Heineman said he’s still waiting to see what kind of interest there is among state senators for calling a special session.
Heineman’s letter [PDF Heineman letter] asks Assistant United States Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones which jurisdiction would prevail if the state enacts siting legislation that requires TransCanada move the Keystone XL pipeline out of the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer and the Obama Administration grants TransCanada a presidential permit to use that route. The letter also reiterates Heineman’s request that the administration require the route be changed to receive the permit.
Heineman avoided a question about whether he would move to call a special session if enough senators indicate interest in holding one.
“I’m not going to try to speculate on a hypothetical,” Heineman responded. “Let’s see how many senators are willing to have a special session. I think we’re still waiting on a number of them to tell us.”
Heineman repeated his stance that while he supports the pipeline, he opposes the route.
“Do you think we’re not going to have an oil spill or an oil leak? Why would we want it over the Ogallala Aquifer and risk contamination of our water supply? It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out we shouldn’t do that,” Heineman said. “So, again, you give Nebraska total responsibility here for siting and it won’t be over the Ogallala Aquifer.”