One Hundred Second Legislature, First Special Session
Senator Tom Carlson-District 38
November 16, 2011
This is Day 11 of the Special Session called to deal with the Keystone XL Pipeline issue. Special Sessions proceed under different rules than regular sessions. The Governor makes the “call” and only one subject can be addressed. Any number of bills may be introduced as long as they come under that heading. The Legislature does not have to give seven days notice for public hearings as interested parties organize as soon as the call is public.
Due to the one subject rule, one standing committee hears the majority of bills. This year that was the Natural Resources Committee, of which I am a member. We spent three full and long days listening to 25 hours of testimony. Two bills, by Senator Langemeier and one by Senator Dubas, advanced to General File for full debate and both are now on Select File.
While we were debating LB 4 this week, the Speaker made an announcement that changed the course of the special session. TransCanada made a voluntary decision to move the pipeline out of the Sand hills and Nebraska agreed to pay for a supplemental environmental study in an effort to expedite the process.
LB 1 is a pipeline bill for future projects. During floor debate on Monday of this week, I made it very clear that for me to support a pipeline siting bill, three components had to be satisfied:
1. New legislation must exclude companies currently in the process of seeking a federal permit for oil pipeline construction in Nebraska. I don’t believe in changing the rules in the 4th quarter of a ball game.
2. Siting legislation for oil pipelines should not exempt any geographical area in the state. I believe exempting certain areas forever would not be sound public policy. Things change, times change, and we must maintain a position of concern for national security as we move forward.
3. Siting legislation should best fit the attitudes of most Nebraskans and be done the Nebraska way. Economic development for our state and the need to become energy independent are important concerns for the vast majority of most citizens of our state. We also care about our natural resources and will proceed to see that these resources are adequately protected now and in the future.
I intend to support LB 1 as it will be amended by Senator Dubas. I believe it addresses my concerns about a siting bill. We should be very careful about additional amendments beyond that of Senator Dubas.
This has been an unusual November for the legislature. I believe the Unicameral is working as it was intended with the citizens being the second house. Margo and I send sincere wishes to you and your families for a bountiful and safe Thanksgiving holiday.