The real work of the special legislative committee begins this morning as the Natural Resources Committee begins taking testimony on proposed oil pipeline regulations.
Committee chairman, Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, has scheduled his committee to hear four of the five bills filed in the special session over the next three days. The Judiciary Committee will hear LB3, sponsored by State Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln, because it deals with how oil pipeline companies exercise the power of eminent domain in acquiring the land needed to lay a pipeline. That hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock.
Langemeier has scheduled his committee to hearing LB1, sponsored by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, beginning at 10 o’clock this morning at the Capitol. Dubas proposes giving the Public Service Commission the power to regulate and approve the routes of oil pipelines.
The committee will hear testimony on LB4, sponsored by Langemeier, on Tuesday afternoon. Langemeier would give the authority for oil pipeline regulations to the governor who would be guided by a special committee of experts. Testimony on LB5 and LB6 is scheduled to be heard Wednesday morning. LB5, sponsored by Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, would prohibit oil pipelines in certain parts of the state. LB6, sponsored by Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln, would require an oil pipeline company to file a $500 million indemnity bond before beginning construction.
Legislation to regulate oil pipelines failed to get out of the Natural Resources Committee during the regular session. Langemeier says that doesn’t indicate legislation filed in the special session will meet the same fate.
“Well, you know, there are a lot of people out there that say that yes it is my committee. My job is to facilitate it. It takes five votes. We’ve had bills come out of my committee that I did not support, but five votes bring them out,” Langemeier says. “We look for any bill or any part of a bill that gets five votes (and) it will come out.”
Langemeier says he expects his committee will put in long days as it hears opponents and proponents of the various bills filed for the legislature to consider during the special session.
Gov. Dave Heineman called the legislature into special session to consider legislation that might address the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. Heineman and other state leaders have criticized TransCanada’s decision to build the pipeline through the Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer. TransCanada has requested a federal presidential permit to build the $7 billion, 1,700 mile pipeline to move crude oil made from the tar sands of western Canada to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas.