A stalled process might soon begin anew.
Gov. Dave Heineman has signed into law LB 1161e, a bill updating oil pipeline regulations approved by the legislature in the special session held last year. The bill outlines the process the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality would use to evaluate the proposed route of oil pipelines in the state. The bill contained an emergency clause, so it goes into effect tomorrow.
Though the bill covers all pending or future applications for oil pipelines, it has a direct impact on the $7 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline. Work on finding an alternative route for Keystone in Nebraska, around the Sand Hills, stopped abruptly when President Obama denied TransCanada a presidential permit to construct the 1,700 mile pipeline from western Canada to oil refineries in Texas along the Gulf Coast. TransCanada is allowed to re-apply.
“Nebraska will move forward on the review process of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and any future pipelines that will create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil,” Gov. Heineman said in a written statement. “The review process is a top priority for Nebraska.”
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Director Mike Linder says the public will be kept informed as the company and the state review a new route.
“As the process evolves, we will do a more in-depth analysis of what is submitted to us,” Linder tells Nebraska Radio Network. “There will be plenty of opportunity for the public to review and comment about the work we get. We’re still looking probably at an eight or nine month process in total.”
The legislation requires NDEQ hold a public hearing on proposed pipeline routes.
Though work to find an alternative route began after TransCanada and Nebraska reached agreement during a special legislative session last summer, it didn’t get very far before the president denied TransCanada’s permit. With the denial, the State Department had no pending application before it and it ended its work with the state to find a different route for Keystone.
Linder says though some of the process had taken place, it still will take a while to complete the work.
“It will take some time,” Linder says. “We initially estimated, last fall, we estimated it would be about a six to nine month process. We put enough preliminary work in to probably take some of that time off, but I’d still say we’re probably looking at seven to nine months.”
Linder says the process begins again as soon as TransCanada files an application with the state.