Pipeline environmental study bill advances

Lawmakers gave second-round approval Nov. 18 to a bill that would authorize the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to collaborate with the federal government on a supplemental environmental impact study for oil pipeline projects in Nebraska.

Introduced by Schuyler Sen. Chris Langemeier, LB4 would apply to proposed pipelines larger than eight inches in inside diameter that are constructed or operated in Nebraska for the transportation of petroleum or petroleum components, products or wastes.

The bill would authorize DEQ to enter into a memorandum of understanding with federal agencies outlining responsibilities and schedules involved in a supplemental environmental impact study (EIS).

In addition, DEQ would be authorized to contract with outside vendors in preparing the supplemental study. The department would be required to make every reasonable effort to ensure that no vendor has a conflict of interest or relationship to any pipeline carrier that applies for an oil pipeline permit. The bill also would waive the state’s competitive bidding requirements.

The governor would be required to indicate to the federal government in writing either approval or disapproval of the route outlined in the state’s supplemental EIS within 30 days of receiving a report from DEQ.

Following adoption of a technical amendment, senators advanced LB4 and the accompanying $2 million appropriations bill by voice vote.

The Legislature is scheduled to take up LB4 and LB1 on final reading Nov. 22 at 9 a.m.

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