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Bold Nebraska, NE Sierra Club Urge Legislature to Ensure All Citizens’ Voices Heard at May 27 Hearing on Fracking Waste Chemicals

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Senator Ernie Chambers

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday May 14, 2015
Contact:
Jane Kleeb, 402-705-3622, jane@boldnebraska.org
Ken Winston, 402-212-3737, kwinston@inebraska.com

Bold Nebraska, NE Sierra Club Urge Legislature to Ensure All Citizens’ Voices Heard
at May 27 Hearing on Fracking Waste Chemicals

NE Sierra Club, Bold Nebraska support legislation from Sen. Chambers
to compel disclosure of all toxic chemicals in fracking waste

Lincoln, NE — Bold Nebraska and the Nebraska Sierra Club on Thursday called on the Natural Resources Committee of the Nebraska Legislature to expand its planned May 27 hearing on LB 664, Senator Ernie Chambers’ bill to require public disclosure of all chemicals in fracking waste, to ensure the voices of all concerned citizens are heard.

“While we appreciate the challenges of dealing with a public hearing while the Legislature is engaged in all-day sessions, we believe the rights of Nebraskans to be heard on this subject is paramount,” said Ken Winston, Nebraska Sierra Club policy advocate.

“This issue has been fraught with attempts to limit or deny the public’s right to be heard, ranging from the Oil and Gas Commission telling people they wouldn’t be allowed to speak, to having the Commission completely disregard their testimony. It is time to right that wrong and allow everyone an opportunity to have his or her voice heard and be made part of the record.”

Bold and Sierra are urging the Committee to make use of its existing live video transmission technology in the hearing room, so that Nebraskans who live in they community that would be directly affected by the fracking wastewater well in Sioux County may be heard, without having to make the very long drive. The same technology was utilized during the Committee’s hearing on LB 512.

“Our state is unprepared for fracking waste just like we are unprepared for a tarsands and benzene spill,” said Bold Nebraska director Jane Kleeb. “If we are going to open our state borders and our drinking water to hazardous materials, we should at the very least know the exact chemicals and have clear emergency response plans. If we continue to do nothing, citizens will be left cleaning the mess with our taxpayer money. We call on Gov. Ricketts to engage in this public health issue now.”

The Legislature voted in a supermajority (37-6) to suspend their rules and allow the introduction of Sen. Chambers’ LB 664, and must now take action to ensure that the voices of citizens that have been silenced by the Oil & Gas Commission are heard.

Although LB 664 will not be acted upon during the current legislative session, the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee will launch a study on fracking shortly after the session ends. Sen. Ken Haar’s LR 247 will also have the Legislature undertake an interim study that will examine whether the NOGCC should be dissolved and its responsibilities taken over by another agency or agencies.

Bold Nebraska and Nebraska Sierra Club led the call for the Nebraska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to put off its vote on a controversial proposed fracking wastewater well in Sioux County – leading a growing coalition opposed to the Oil and Gas Commission taking action that includes State Senators Galen Hadley, Heath Mello, Ken Haar, Ernie Chambers, John Kuehn, Kate Sullivan, Al Davis, Bob Krist and John Stinner; the editorial boards of the Lincoln Journal Star and Scottsbluff Star-Herald, 8,700 petition signers; and 1,320 Nebraskans who each sent a letter to their state senators.

View the citizen letter to state senators:
http://act.boldnebraska.org/letter/fracking_letter/

However, the NOGCC ignored this coalition and approved the fracking wastewater well permit at a “special meeting” held on April 22.

Local landowners who live within a half-mile of the proposed well site filed an appeal of the NOGCC decision this week. Bold Nebraska and Nebraska Sierra Club have pledged to support the landowners’ appeal.

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