Another oil pipeline regulation bill has been filed in the special legislative session, this one filed by the chairman of the committee which is hearing the bills.
Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, has filed a bill of his own for the legislature to consider in this special session. Unlike the bill filed by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, Langemeier’s bill, LB4, would give the governor the authority to decide the route of oil pipelines.
“And, now, comparing it to Sen. Dubas’ (bill), we’ve just kind of open that discussion up and say, ‘Who should be the right gatekeeper in Nebraska for pipelines?’” Langemeier told reporters after the end of second day of the special session.
LB4 would also establish a panel of experts to advise the governor. The panel would include representatives of the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Natural Resources, the Game and Parks Commission and the Public Service Commission. The Department of Environmental Quality would receive oil pipeline applications and hold public hearings under the provisions of the bill.
The Dubas bill, LB1, takes a different route. It would give the Public Service Commission authority to review proposed oil pipeline routes and give final approval. Still, Dubas, she says the filing of additional bills indicates the legislature is taking the issue seriously.
“The fact that we have more than one bill just, again, highlights that there are a lot of ideas out there that we need to be considering and we need to be having that public debate on these issues,” according to Dubas.
TransCanada’s proposal to build the $7 billion, 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline through the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer sparked calls for the legislature to meet in special session to consider enacting regulations of oil pipelines.
Also filed on Wednesday, was LB3, a bill by Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln which would require companies building oil pipelines to receive federal and state authority before using the power of eminent domain.
The legislature reconvenes Thursday at 11am, when additional bills can be introduced.