A state senator asserts Nebraska needs to enact oil pipeline legislation so that it can change the position it finds itself in on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Two long days of public testimony on three bills filed during the special legislative session and, in the middle of it all, Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm expresses frustration about efforts to move the Keystone XL pipeline away from the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer.
“The whole process now makes me feel like a beggar,” Haar says during testimony before the Natural Resources Committee at the Capitol. “We beg to Washington. We send letters. We send letters; sometimes we get responses and sometimes we don’t. We beg Secretary Clinton. We beg the president.”
Haar refers to letters written by Gov. Dave Heineman to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, urging both to force TransCanada to move the route of the Keystone XL pipeline away from the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer as a condition for granting a presidential permit for the $7 billion, 1,700 mile oil pipeline. Heineman called the legislature into special session to consider oil pipeline regulations that could force the pipeline route to change.
Haar says the legislature can change its begging position and give Nebraska an opportunity to be part of the decision-making process, if it approves a bill during the special session.
Senators on the Natural Resources Committee have heard hours of testimony on two bills. LB1, sponsored by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, would give the Public Service Commission authority to regulate pipelines. LB4, sponsored by Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler chairman of the committee, would give the governor the authority. The Judiciary Committee has heard testimony on LB3, sponsored by Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln, which would require a company to receive either a federal or state permit to exercise eminent domain power.
The Natural Resources Committee meets this morning to take testimony on the two remaining bills filed during the special session. LB5, sponsored by Sen. Haar, would put portions of Nebraska off-limits to pipelines. LB6, sponsored by Sen. Avery, would require a pipeline company to post a $500 million indemnity bond before beginning construction.