Just weeks ago Governor Heineman said he would not support a special session that could use hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Monday, he had a change of heart. He says conversations with the U.S. State Department, senators, and Nebraskans like you, are the reason for that change.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman says he'll call a special legislative session for lawmakers to consider challenging the planned route of a massive transnational oil pipeline.
"It's worth all that money because if we have an oil spill or a leak that contaminates our water supply it will cost a lot more than that," said Gov. Heineman. "A lot more."
So the special session's estimated cost of $10,000 a day doesn't seem so bad.
"We're going to try to work with the speaker of the legislature and try to see if we can find one or more alternatives that will give us a chance to find a fair and balanced legal and constitutional manner to enact siting legislature," said Gov. Heineman. "We're pursuing an alternative that is very, very difficult. Particularly when you're acting in the middle of a permit process. There's no doubt the federal government can preempt any state in America. They have a responsibility for safety, so we have a narrow window opportunity."
The Republican governor's Monday decision means Nebraska doesn't intend to just leave the matter to the federal government, which is expected to decide whether to approve the $7 billion Keystone XL Pipeline project by year's end.
Pipeline opponents sought the special session to consider a
proposal that would have given the state control over the pipe's
route. Heineman acknowledges the proposal is likely to face a court
"We want to act before the president makes his decision," said Gov. Heineman. "They said by the end of the year, but you can't risk anything. I think it would be preferable to act within the next two weeks but certainly by thanksgiving that will give us a stronger legal basis for what we do. I think we've got a possibility that we can come to a good solution, but I don't want to sit here and give you a 100% assurance 'cause I don't think any of us can."
The 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline would travel Nebraska and
five other states. Supporters say it could reduce U.S. dependence
on Middle Eastern oil, while environmental groups say a spill could
cause an ecological disaster.