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In recent weeks, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline has received considerable attention throughout Nebraska and District 40.
In the eastern part of district 40, there has been positive feedback from the first Keystone pipeline construction due to increased economic activity. However, the fragility of the Sandhills and the great importance of the groundwater supply make the proposed route for the new Keystone XL pipeline a different matter, even with the added regulations in LB629, which was passed last session and signed by Governor Heineman. LB629, introduced by Senator Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, adopted the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act. The regulations contained in LB629 will work towards ensuring that an oil company will have to fix any ongoing or future land restoration issues. Two other bills requiring more regulation are also pending in the Natural Resources Committee and will be addressed in the upcoming session. While I do not sit on the Natural Resources Committee, I am discussing the issues surrounding the pipeline with my colleagues and am working with them to address the concerns of my constituents.
I have serious concerns about the proposed route of the pipeline and agree with Governor Heineman’s stance. Governor Heineman recently stated that he opposed the route through the Sandhills and encouraged the United States Department of State to deny Transcanada’s permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. Currently, the U.S. Department of State is undergoing a public comment period on the pipeline and is holding public meetings in Lincoln on September 27 and in Atkinson on September 29. I encourage you to attend one of these meetings if possible.
The U.S. Department of State has announced that a decision on the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline will not be forthcoming until the end of the year. However, the Legislature has time to act before that decision takes place. After careful consideration and discussion with constituents and my colleagues in the Legislature, a special session is needed to address concerns with the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. While I am wary of spending money on a special session, I recognize that further regulation is necessary, and such regulation should be passed prior to the decision by the U.S. Department of State on the permits. Due to my concerns about the pipeline route, I would support a special session to further discuss the regulations needed to ensure the pipeline does not cause harm to our State.
Senator Tyson Larson