Oil pipeline land reclamation bill advances

Lawmakers advanced a bill from general file March 15 that would address reclamation requirements following oil pipeline construction in Nebraska.

LB845, sponsored by Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan, would strengthen requirements currently outlined in the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act.

As introduced, the bill would require that:
• genetically appropriate and locally adapted native plant materials and seeds be used based on site characteristics and vegetation as determined by a preconstruction site inventory;
• final grading, topsoil replacement, installation of erosion control structures, seeding and mulching be completed within 30 days of backfill except when weather conditions, extenuating circumstances or unforeseen developments prevent it;
• all reclamation including choice of seed mixes, method of reseeding, weed and erosion control measures and monitoring be conducted in accordance with the Federal Seed Act, the Nebraska Seed Law and the Noxious Weed Control Act; and
• all seed mixes be state-certified seeds in accordance with the Nebraska Seed Law and mulch be installed as required by site contours, seeding methods and weather conditions or when requested by a landowner.

Sullivan said the bill reflects practices already being used by large pipeline companies and would not hinder pipeline construction in Nebraska.

“It simply outlines a little more directly what reclamation efforts are supposed to include,” she said.

A Natural Resources Committee amendment, adopted 37-0, removed the requirement that a pipeline carrier ensure that all seed mixes used in reclamation are state-certified under Nebraska Seed Law.

Schuyler Sen. Chris Langemeier, chairperson of the committee, said several native prairie grass producers testified during the hearing on LB845 that the provision would hamper their ability to produce native seed for reclamation purposes in a timely way.

“It could be up to 10 years to create a state-certified seed,” he said.

Sullivan supported the amendment, saying the bill’s remaining requirements were sufficient to ensure appropriate re-seeding of areas affected by oil pipeline construction.

The bill advanced on a 39-0 vote.

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