Last night the House of Representatives passed a payroll tax bill that contained a rider to rush a pipeline decision in 60 days. The rider was actively pushed by Rep. Terry.

Both Rep. Smith and Rep. Terry voted for the bill, while Rep. Fortenberry voted against the bill.

“We applaud Rep. Fortenberry for standing up for Nebraska and not pushing an arbitrary deadline on TransCanada’s risky tar sands pipeline,” said Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska Director. “As Rep. Boehner and Terry continue to inflate job numbers and pretend that everything is fine in Nebraska, landowners are on pins and needles wondering if their land will be crossed by a new–and unannounced–route. Our water is still at risk.”

Despite what Rep. Terry has tried to spin, the bill forces a decision by President Obama in 60 days, while back at home a new route has yet to be announced or analyzed, and there are still unanswered questions about how tar sands will effect the Ogallala Aquifer.

“Representatives Terry and Smith keep pushing this reckless pipeline instead of standing up for Nebraska landowners like me and countless others who are doing everything we can to protect our land and water,” said Randy Thompson. “Really makes you wonder why they are doing this. Seems to me our livelihood has become their favorite political football. Their hail mary pass trying to get this pipeline fast tracked is misguided and not what Nebraska expects from our elected officials.”

Rep. Terry is the recipient of heavy campaign contributions from oil companies, over $365,000 since 1999. Koch Industries alone gave him $15,500–they have a “direct and substantial interest” in the pipeline and funds Americans for Prosperity which actively supports the pipeline in Nebraska through direct mail, robocalls and other efforts. Rep. Terry has never voted against Big Oil interests since he arrived in Washington.

Background Resources:

Full bill text:

Oil Contribution Tracking:

Explanation of Keystone Pipeline Rider:

The language of the pipeline rider in the bill may be a bit confusing, so we tried to do our best putting it in “laymans terms.”

The bottom line is this reckless language, pushed by Rep. Terry in the House and Senator Johanns in the Senate, means Presdient Obama will be forced to make a decision on the pipeline within 60 days of the bill becoming a law, without knowing the Nebraska route.

The bill still needs to pass in the Senate, which is unlikely, however it is a possibility.

The way it will work is Gov. Heineman still needs to submit a revised route to the State Department and President Obama. However, Obama would have to make his decision on the pipeline BEFORE Heineman gives him the route. We wrote a few days ago that President Obama should call their bluff and sign this bill into law and then turn around and deny the permit.

Gov. Heineman would obvisouly be under tremendous political pressure to come up with a new route quickly. So while the bill does include a condition that Nebraska may present a modified route that the President must accept within 10 days, the bill still puts an arbitrary timeframe on the entire process including our state.

If President Obama did grant the permit, without knowing what the route in Nebraska would be, we are pretty sure TransCanada would begin building the pipeline in other states while Nebraska went thorugh the process we just put in place last month.

Essentially, we’d be back to sqaure one with TransCanada threatening to sue Nebraska for any delays we caused, only this time the threats would be magnified because construction would already be happening on the pipeline and they would blame us for anything and everything.

For more background on the politics of the rider and the pipeline right now, check out my recent post or download an pipeline rider overview by NRDC.