It appears state lawmakers are poised to approve oil pipeline regulations and to address any future Keystone XL pipeline controversies.
Two bills are working their way through the special session. A completely revamped LB4 would outline how the state would help TransCanada find an alternative route for the Keystone XL pipeline, away from the Sand Hills. LB4 now contains the proposal worked out by Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood of Norfolk that prompted TransCanada to voluntarily agree to move the oil pipeline.
Under provisions of the bill, the state would pay for a supplemental environmental impact study on a new route. The governor would ultimately sign off on the new route, sending in writing his approval to the State Department, which would make the final decision on TransCanada’s application for a president permit.
TransCanada proposed building a $7 billion, 1,700 miles from western Canada to refineries at the Gulf Coast in Texas.
The second bill, LB1, would regulate future oil pipelines. It is sponsored by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton and would give the Public Service Commission authority over determining the routes oil pipelines would take in Nebraska. Dubas has seen her bills die in committee in past sessions. She says things have changed during the special session.
“Again, I think it’s the public pressure. It continued. The citizens wanted to have something done and the legislature has responded,” Dubas says.
The legislature has advanced Dubas’ bill, but she is working on answering lingering legal questions about it before it returns for a final vote.