A decision by the State Department to consider alternative routes for the Keystone XL pipeline likely won’t end the special legislative session.
The State Department had previously said it would decide on TransCanada’s application for a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline by the end of this year. Now, it appears that decision won’t be reached until early 2013, after the 2012 elections. TransCanada proposes building a $7 billion, 1,700 mile oil pipeline from western Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. It must receive a presidential permit before proceeding.
A news release issued by the Department of State specifically mentioned that concerns about building the pipeline through the Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer were a primary factor in postponing the decision until further assessments can be made. Alternative routes will be considered.
Still, Gov. Dave Heineman says Nebraska needs to enact legislation over oil pipeline routes.
“I believe siting legislation is necessary, whether we do it in special session or regular session,” Heineman says.
Heineman add he’s ready to work with the legislature to get that accomplished either now or next year.
“I’ve always found it better to work with the legislature and hope that we can find the best solution, whether you do it in special session or regular session,” according to Heineman. “And I’d rather work with the Speaker of the Legislature on that determination.”
The Speaker has scheduled debate on a pipeline regulation bill, LB4, to begin Monday afternoon. The bill would grant authority to the governor to decide the routes oil pipelines take after receiving input from a special panel of experts.