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Release: Pipeline Bill is Unconstitutional and Continues to Threaten Ogallala Aquifer

As the Nebraska state legislature considers legislation that will hastily fast track a route review of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, and undo laws passed last year during the historic Special Session, a few important points remain critically unaddressed: 

  • Nebraska’s state constitution forbids any law being passed for the benefit of one company. The pipeline bill (LB 1161) and the various amendments from state senators trying to “fix” the bill come up short on the legal front and are long on handouts to TransCanada. Gov. Heineman just vetoed a bill yesterday because it created a “closed class” and is unconstitutional special legislation, citizens expect him to do the same on this bill.
  • After promising in January it would provide a new route to Nebraska within days, TransCanada is now refusing to disclose a new route.  Instead, TransCanada will only identify a “corridor” and will only do that if the Unicameral passes a bill that fast tracks their project and gives them immediate eminent domain authority—all paid for by Nebraskans to the tune of $2 million.
  • The Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer are both still at risk since Nebraska does not have anything in writing from TransCanada or in state law to avoid these sensitive areas. Meanwhile, landowners are on pins and needles not knowing if their land will be threatened by tarsands and eminent domain.

TransCanada has done nothing to ease concerns of Nebraskans. All they have given is spin to media and talking points for Governor Heineman and Prime Minister Harper to mislead the public and elected officials. Just yesterday, Harper mislead a group in DC saying, “it is my understanding that routing concerns [about Keystone] have been addressed in Nebraska itself.” There is no “new route” in Nebraska. Our concerns have not been addressed.

Jane Kleeb with Bold Nebraska stated, “Our state senators are passing laws by the seat of their pants for a route that is unknown and for a pipeline that has not applied for a federal permit. And all for a company, TransCanada, that misleads our state and bullies our landowners.”

“TransCanada forced their first leaky pipeline on American landowners with threats and false promises. Now they are trying to force the Nebraska Legislature to pass legally defective legislation to give them the right to cross the vast and vulnerable Ogallala aquifer without disclosing their proposed route. This flawed legislation would give a foreign company exclusive authority to use eminent domain to take land from Nebraska landowners without making any legally binding commitments,” said Ken Winston, Nebraska Sierra Club.

Landowner Kevin Connell said, “TransCanada has a ‘corridor’ already, it is at the eastern part of our state near their first pipeline. They should take the advice of landowners and legal experts in our state and place their pipe next to the existing one so it does not cross the Ogallala or Sandhills. Better yet, keep your tar sands, we don’t want your mess and don’t want our water contaminated.” 

More details on LB 1161 and various amendments: http://boldnebraska.org/transcanada_loophole

For media: to connect with Jane, Ken or Kevin email jane@boldnebraska.org 

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