You may have heard that after nine legislative days of the special session, over 25 hours of testimony, and one day of debate, a path has developed to move forward with a compromise on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Many of you have been following the Keystone XL Pipeline issue closely and have contacted my office voicing your opinions regarding the proposed oil pipeline and its route through the Sandhills and over the Ogallala Aquifer; thank you for your involvement. I would like to explain my votes as a member of the Natural Resources Committee.
I have made it clear that I have been for the Keystone XL Pipeline and was satisfied that the risk to the Ogallala Aquifer would be small and localized and was no greater than the risks we already take with current pipelines and agricultural practices. I believe our nation has to start moving away from foreign sources of energy from places in the world where they are not our allies. Moreover, even after the 25 hours of testimony in the Natural Resources Committee I still was not convinced that the risks were too great to move the proposed route.
But, as a state senator I felt it important to allow a bill out of committee, LB4, with the intent to allow the people to be heard through their representatives through a debate on the floor of the Legislature. I voted with the committee to advance LB4 to General File, with a vote of 7-1, even though I do not support the bill.
Over the weekend Canada made it clear that if the U.S. was unable to decide on the pipeline that they would be looking to China to find a market for Canada's oil. I believe, with a possibility of losing out on the opportunity of this stable source of oil from our Canadian friends, and Nebraska possibly being blamed as the cause of the delay or loss of opportunity, things began to move and a path forward began to develop.
So, after an afternoon of debate on Monday, Speaker Flood announced that he had been in discussions with the U.S. State Department and TransCanada and a compromise developed, which you have probably already read about. TransCanada has voluntarily decided to move the route outside the Sandhills, Nebraska will conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study in coordination with the federal government on a new route, and the Legislature will move forward with an amended LB1, which will not apply to the Keystone XL, but all future pipelines.
As with all compromises, details still need to be worked out; there is still work to be done that might spill over into the 2012 Session.
The Natural Resources Committee has had a public hearing on Speaker Flood's proposed amendment, AM37, advanced LB1 to the floor with an amendment, and the body advanced it to Select File where the committee will do more work to provide a solid process for future pipelines.
If you have comments, concerns, or questions about the pipeline and the special session, 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/.