Keystone pipeline still gushing controversy
March 17th, 2011
Lincoln, NE – Controversy continues over a proposed oil pipeline through the Sandhills, following the State Department’s announcement that it will require a supplemental environmental impact statement. Opponents of the pipeline, including Jane Fleming Kleeb of the group Bold Nebraska, said that gives Nebraska officials more time that they should use to act.
“Governor Heineman could issue an executive order,” Kleeb said. “The state Legislature could do an emergency law. We have processes in place. We can take that ownership and leadership and say ‘We’re going to pass a law to say the Sandhills are off limits.’ The ball is essentially in the court of our state elected leaders on the route of the pipeline.”
Bills to enact state regulation are bottled up in the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee. In a news conference, Heineman said he’d continue to work with Sen. Mike Johanns, who’s raised questions about the pipeline route at the federal level, and he suggested Kleeb’s approach to the issue was backfiring.
“I think most Nebraskans think her aggressive, partisan, attack-style politics don’t serve Nebraska very well.,” Heineman said. “Clearly the Natural Resources committee rejected her thoughts.”
Kleeb, former executive director of the Young Democrats of America, brushed aside the Republican governor’s criticism.
“I think any time an elected official takes a personal swipe at me, which has happened twice this week around this issue” she said, “I think it’s them diverting attention to the lack of leadership they’ve provided on this issue.”
But Heineman made it clear that, at least for now, he doesn’t want to push for state pipeline regulation.
“I try to let the Legislature have their discussion on their bills,” he said, “and then we’ll see what gets to my desk. I’ve said all along we ought to have the discussion, and then they need to make a determination whether there are bills that are appropriate to move into law. And at least right now, I think they’re rejecting that. This is all part of the legislative process; I try not to interfere at such an early stage. And we’ll see what they end up doing.”