State senators return to Lincoln to debate oil pipeline legislation filed during the special session.
LB4 would give the governor power to determine the route of oil pipelines. It has been sent the full legislature by the Natural Resources Committee. Debate begins this afternoon.
“I expect a very fiery debate, a very spirited debate,” Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I think there will be many, many amendments, friendly and not so friendly introduced and that’s how the legislature works.”
Dubas says she’s very pleased the Natural Resources Committee, of which she’s a member, sent a bill to the full legislature for debate, even though it bypassed her bill for that of the chairman. Dubas had suggested in her legislation that the Public Service Commission be given authority over the regulation of oil pipelines. The committee did incorporate much of other aspects of her bill in the version advanced to the floor for debate.
Many questions remain, even whether a special session is needed in light of the State Department action to postpone a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department on Thursday revealed it was postponing a decision on TransCanada’s application for a presidential permit due in large part because of concerns over its proposed route through the Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer. TransCanada needs the permit to begin construction on the $7 billion, 1,700 mile oil pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast in Texas.
The primary question is the constitutionality of the legislation. It’s a question Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk acknowledges still concerns him.
“Yeah, that’s an issue,” Flood says, “but I’m not going to prejudge my personal opinion, yet.”
Flood has scheduled debate to begin this afternoon. It’s not known how long the legislature might debate the issue.