Debate begins on pipeline bill; Keystone XL route will move

Lawmakers began first-round debate Nov. 14 on a bill that would give the governor final authority to approve pipeline routes in Nebraska.

LB4, introduced by Schuyler Sen. Chris Langemeier, would adopt the Oil Pipeline Route Certification Act.

Among other provisions, LB4 would establish an application and certification process for oil pipeline routing in Nebraska. Under the bill, authority to issue a route certification for a proposed pipeline ultimately would rest with the governor.

During debate, Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk announced that TransCanada has agreed to reroute the Keystone XL pipeline.

“They have agreed to voluntarily move the route out of the Sandhills,” Flood said.

In addition, Flood said, the U.S. State Department confirmed that Nebraska has the ability to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study on any newly proposed route.

As a result, he said, the Natural Resources Committee will be conducting a public hearing Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m. on an amendment to provide authority for such a study to be conducted by the state Department of Environmental Quality. He said the study likely would take six to nine months to complete.

Flood said a siting bill and a regulatory framework for pipelines still are needed so that Nebraska has a voice in routing future pipelines. The amendment would provide a positive outcome for everyone involved in the process, he said.

“It respects our citizens, it moves the route and it defines state policy into the future,” Flood said.

The Legislature adjourned without taking action on LB4.

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