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Update: TransCanada Loophole Bill, Take Action

Update: 4/5, 7:30am: LB 1161, which is now a brand new bill, gets a “second” round of debate today at 10am. This is a brand new bill, this is not an “ammendment” and it CANCELS out the two laws passed during the Special Session. Speaker Flood’s ammendment was apparently not acceptable to the pipeline supports or TransCanada since Sen. Smith hours later had “his” own version. Citizens and landonwers have no chance to understand this version of the bill. They are doing this on the Thursday before everyone wants to leave Lincoln by noon so they can spend the Easter holiday with their families. This is not what democracy looks like.

Update, 4/3, 2pm: Speaker Flood has now offered an amendment that would require TransCanada to first apply for their Federal permit and then would allow the DEQ to review the pipeline. Any company that has not applied for a Federal permit would have to go through the PSC. Flood’s bill, according to some who have reviewed it, essentially erases the two laws put in place during the special session. Any new bill/amendments state senators put on the floor at this point will have ZERO public input or accountability since there will be no hearings on the bill.

++++Origianl Post with Action Ideas+++

The Unicameral is in TransCanada’s pocket. Last week, debate started on TransCanada’s loophole bill–LB 1161–along with various amendments that have now been offered. The chief sponsors are Sen. Langemeier and Sen. Smith, two members of the “Pipeline Six.”

TransCanada recently said they would not unveil a new route and would instead unveil a new “corridor” but only after the Unicameral passes a bill to fast-track their project. 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 that misleads our state and bullies our landowners.

We passed laws during the Special Session. TransCanada should have to follow those laws. Instead, we have some members of the Unicameral who will do anything, even violate our state’s constitution, to pass a bill to get TransCanada’s route approved and give them eminent domain authority. The atmosphere in the Unicameral is a little like watching chickens with their heads cut off. 

Snapshot of LB 1161:

  • LB 1161 provides a loophole–just for TransCanada–and is pay back for all the money TransCanada has spent over the past two years pressuring our state senators and Governor Heineman.
  • This bill IGNORES the laws we just passed during the Special Session and fast-tracks a route approval (before they even submit their federal application).
  • Nebraska’s state constitution forbids any law that provides a “special class” or “special legislation” for one company. LB 1161 does just that for TransCanada.
  • Worst of all, LB 1161 grants TransCanada immediate eminent domain authority versus them having to get their federal permit before taking Nebraskans’ land which is our state law now.

Actions:

Email Speaker Flood, mflood@leg.ne.gov and your state senator asking them to vote “no” on LB 1161 and to table any bill releated to KXL pipeline this session. TransCanada should follow the laws we passed last year. They should not get special treatment. We should not violate our state’s constitution by passing laws for only one company.

Sign the “Stop the Pipeline Six” petition. Most of the Natural Resources Committee cares more about making life easier for TransCanada than protecting our land and water.

Watch the floor debate and votes online. We will also be tweeting the debate and votes, follow @janekleeb and @boldnebraska.

We are planning some new actions and protests. Check our Facebook wall, for updates or send ideas to jane@boldnebraska.org. 

Bill Process:

Last Thursday debate started on the bill and it advanced with only two senators voting “no” Sens. Haar and Conrad.

The bill now advances to the next round of debate and voting which could happen on April 4 or 5.

The final vote on the bill might happen on April 10 or 11. 

This is all a fluid process so watch our Facebook page and Twitter account to stay updated.

Facts on LB 1161:

  • It would make it easier for TransCanada to exercise eminent domain. Given TransCanada’s abuses of this authority by threatening Nebraska landowners with the use of eminent domain without a permit, the law should make it more difficult for private pipeline companies to exercise eminent domain.

  • LB 1161 is probably unconstitutional special legislation. No other company would be able to use its provisions, which creates a closed class in violation of the Nebraska Constitution.

  • It is unnecessary. LB 1 created a process to determine the route of oil pipelines through Nebraska’s Public Service Commission which they could use.

  • Nebraska taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for TransCanada’s review of a proposed route. They spent $530,000 lobbying the Legislature in the special session and another $1.3 million lobbying Congress last year. TransCanada can clearly afford to pay for their pipeline review. The State has pressing needs for the use of its taxpayer dollars, like paying for teachers and books.

  • Even if this bill passes and the Nebraska DEQ certifies a route, the State Department, since they have no Memorandum of Understanding with DEQ laying out what they expect in an EIS could turn around and say the DEQ’s route certification is not sufficient and we would have to go through this process all over again.

Tarsands and TransCanada:

TransCanada is unfit to build report documenting their leaky Keystone pipeline and bullying tactics.

TransCanada’s tarsands pipeline will increase gas prices in the MidWest.

Keystone XL is an export pipeline headed to a refinery owned by Saudi-Arabia that took $1billion in American taxpayer dollars to upgrade their refinery to handle tarsands.

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BOLD Nebraska
208 S. Burlington Ave., Ste 103, Box 325, Hastings, NE 68901