Nebraska will pay for a supplemental environmental impact study on an alternative route for the Keystone XL pipeline, under a bill moving forward in the special session.
The proposal has been added to LB4 by Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood, who argues that if re-routing the Keystone XL pipeline away from the Sand Hills is important to Nebraska, the state should be willing to pay for the supplemental environmental study necessary. The fiscal note on Flood’s amendment is $2 million, though some senators stated they believe the actual cost will be less.
Flood told fellow senators recent experience sparked the proposal. Flood said many Holt County landowners have raised questions about the federal permit process, such as when they learned TransCanada paid to rent the gym for the State Department public hearing on Keystone XL in Atkinson.
“In Omaha and Lincoln, you might not hear as much about it, but when you live in rural parts of Nebraska and somebody finds out the check to the Atkinson high school came from TransCanada, they had some automatic concerns that had been voiced to the members of the legislature, especially in rural areas,” Flood said.
Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff supported the measure, stating that who pays for such studies is important. He told fellow senators he has read many studies on the Keystone XL pipeline.
“But what popped in my mind constantly as I began to track these things down is who paid for the review, who paid for the study, who’s involved behind-the-scenes to bring this thing forward?” Harms stated during flood debate. “And I guess what always concerned me and bothered me was the fact when I saw that the pipeline company was financing it I automatically just put a block in my mind and said I don’t know if I can trust this information.”
The legislature is working on two separate bills in the special session. LB4 outlines the structure to carry out an agreement reach between the state and TransCanada to move the Keystone XL pipeline out of the Sand Hills. The governor would have to sign off on a new route. LB1, sponsored by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, would outline the process necessary for future proposed pipelines to receive a permit from the Public Service Commission.