Nebraska governor calls special legislative session on pipelines

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) said he would call the state’s unicameral legislature into special session starting Nov. 1 to determine if siting legislation can be crafted for pipeline routing across the state. The special session’s purpose would be to find a legal and constitutional solution for siting oil pipelines within Nebraska, Heineman said on Oct. 24.

Heineman made his move as the US Department of State continued to consider TransCanada Corp.’s cross-border permit application for its proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, which would cross the state. The system would expand the company’s capacity to ship crude recovered from oil sands to refineries in the US Midcontinent and along the Gulf Coast. It also would provide a route for Bakken shale crude in North Dakota to reach markets downstream.

Heineman and other Nebraska politicians have raised questions about possible adverse impacts on the Ogallala Aquifer, the state’s primary underground freshwater source, in the event of a major leak from Keystone XL. US Rep. Lee Terry (R) is not among them, since he was the main sponsor of a bill the House approved on July 26 establishing a Nov. 1 deadline for DOS to reach a decision on TransCanada’s application. The bill awaits US Senate action.

“The key decision for current pipeline discussions is the permitting decision that will be made by the Obama administration, which is why I have urged President Obama and Sec. of State [Hillary R.] Clinton to deny the permit,” Heineman said. “However, I believe Nebraskans are expecting our best efforts to determine if alternatives exist. Therefore, I will be calling a special session of the Nebraska legislature to have a thoughtful and thorough public discussion about alternative solutions that could impact the route of the pipeline in a legal and constitutional manner.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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