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Friday, May 6, 2016

Reaching a compromise on the pipeline

Monday, May 16, 2011

Legislative Bill 629, introduced by Sen. Kate Sullivan, which would enact the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Reclamation and Recovery Act, in response to intentions by TransCanada to run its Keystone oil pipeline through Nebraska. It has been a hot topic of discussion for many Nebraskans, and many of you in District 44 who have taken the time to contact me with your opinions regarding the bill. I truly appreciate receiving your opinions and involvement in this important issue.

Last week LB629 was advanced out of the Natural Resources Committee with the committee amendment AM1465 attached on an 8-0 vote with my support. It would become the bill if adopted. As introduced, LB 629 would have required the Nebraska Public Service Commission certification before constructing or operating a hazardous liquid pipeline through the state. The bill stalled in committee in its original form as both sides looked for common ground.

Recently, a compromise committee amendment was agreed upon, AM1465, which replaces the bill. This will allow a chance for a discussion by the whole Legislature on an issue that affects many Nebraskans. The amendment would do the following.

The committee amendment would change the name of the act to the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act. It would also require that a pipeline carrier owning, constructing, operating or managing a pipeline going through the state for the transporting of oil be financially responsible for reclamation costs related to construction, operation and management of the pipeline. Reclamation would begin as soon as reasonably practicable after backfill, and such responsibility would continue until the pipeline is permanently decommissioned or removed.

In addition, the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act would not prohibit a government entity from pursuing reclamation costs related to roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Finally, the amendment is intended to provide the minimum standards to be met by a pipeline carrier, and is not intended to affect any individual agreements made between a landowner and pipeline carrier, and is not to affect a pipeline carrier's duties under applicable federal law or permits.

If AM1465 is adopted and passed on Final Reading with thirty votes, it would immediately become law upon Governor Heineman signing LB629, because of an emergency clause contained in the bill.

Though many on both sides of the issue are not fully satisfied with the compromise amendment, it is a start in the right direction as we Nebraskans work through this important issue. I look forward to a good debate.

If you have comments, concerns, or questions about this bill or any other issue, please, call my office at 402-471-2805 or for more information you can view my legislative website at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist44/.

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State Sen. Mark Christensen
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