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Nebraska Lawmakers Plead with Secy. Clinton to Delay Keystone XL Decision

The Nebraskans say that extending the deadline to May 2012 would give the Legislature another session to beef up its oil pipeline safeguards

Jun 3, 2011
(Page 4 of 4 )
Nebraska senator Colby Coash

In his most recent letter, Haar emphasizes that state legislators need additional time to tackle pipeline issues such as siting and routing; eminent domain; liability; emergency response; and permitting and oversight. Back in January, Haar and 20 other senators wrote a letter to Clinton urging the State Department to issue a supplemental draft environmental impact statement.

The state legislators point to a six-page memo from the Congressional Research Service as proof that they — not federal authorities — have the power to regulate and route oil pipelines in the Cornhusker State.

Environmental advocates didn't uncover the federal document, dated Sept. 10, 2010, until March, as reported by SolveClimate News. U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, the same Republican pressuring the Obama administration to meet an arbitrary deadline on Keystone XL, is the one who posed the initial question to the federal researchers. The service, part of the Library of Congress, helps federal lawmakers by providing comprehensive legislative analysis.

"Nebraska is home to twin jewels — the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer," Haar wrote in his May letter. "As the largest aquifer in the United States ... the Ogallala Aquifer has an immense strategic value."

The letter refers to the Sandhills as ancient dunes that are one of the nation’s most delicate natural formations and habitats.

"TransCanada plans to run its proposed pipeline through a part of the Sandhills where the Ogallala Aquifer is both deepest and closest to the surface, and most vulnerable to contamination," the letter continues.

Suite of Green Promises to Carry On

Winston, of the Nebraska Sierra Club, said he is encouraged that legislators and activists from outside the pipeline region have adopted Keystone XL as a cause.

It only amplifies their arguments, he emphasized, when the issue is resonating in places of electoral significance such as California and New York.

"We're not going away and we're going to keep fussing," Winston vowed. "All of it is intertwined. "There's a lot more we can do and a lot more we intend to do."

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