Only one member of the Natural Resources Committee voted against advancing an oil pipeline regulation bill to the floor for debate.
Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion says he has serious concerns about the legality of LB4 to be debated this afternoon.
“I’m not opposed to having good floor debate,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I felt as if for me to have supported that bill as it stands coming out of committee would not do justice to alerting my colleagues to the concerns I have and what we heard expressed inside that committee about the legalities of this bill.”
TransCanada’s legal team has criticized the bills filed in the special legislative session as unconstitutional. One attorney for TransCanada called them “patently unconstitutional” during testimony before the committee. TransCanada lawyers claim the bills target the Keystone XL pipeline, a specific project, which isn’t allowed by the state constitution. They further assert the legislation violates the federal commerce clause and deal with pipeline safety, which is a federal issue, not a state issue.
Others on the committee expressed similar reservations, but reasoned that the bill was too important to kill in committee, that the full body should debate the legislation.
Smith doesn’t know what to expect during legislative debate that begins this afternoon at the Capitol in Lincoln. LB4 would give the governor the power to regulate oil pipelines.
“I have no idea where this is going to go. I cannot even speculate. I would not have thought that we would be here in special session. I would not have thought that that bill, as it looks now, would have come out of committee 7 to 1,” Smith says.
Smith agrees that Nebraska needs legislation regulating the routes oil pipelines take in the state. He says he would likely support the legislation if it dealt with future projects, not Keystone XL. He is unsure whether amendments could be added to the bill to gain his support.