Oil pipeline regulation bill passes

Lawmakers passed a bill April 11 related to oil pipeline routing in Nebraska.

LB1161, sponsored by Papillion Sen. Jim Smith, would make changes to law enacted during a November 2011 special session called by Gov. Dave Heineman to regulate oil pipeline routing in Nebraska.

Under LB1161, a pipeline carrier wishing to construct a major oil pipeline in Nebraska after the effective date of the bill must apply for approval from the governor under the provisions of LB4 passed during the special session.

The governor may approve the application or refer it to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for further review under the Major Oil Pipeline Siting Act.

Among other provisions, the bill also requires:
• that a carrier’s eminent domain rights be terminated if they remain unused two years after approval of a pipeline application;
• the PSC to make public any documents or records relating to a major oil pipeline unless federal law provides otherwise;
• the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to hold at least one public hearing on an application under review by the department; and
• a carrier to reimburse DEQ for the cost of an evaluation within 60 days after notification of the cost.

It is estimated that, under the bill’s provisions, DEQ will be reimbursed $2 million in fiscal year 2012-13 for work done on a supplemental environmental impact study for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The bill passed on a 44-5 vote and takes effect immediately.

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