Possible special session called over Keystone XL Pipeline

By: Kali Nicole

The Federal Government should decide whether or not the pipeline can be built within the next three months. That time crunch has some state senators talking about the possibility of a special session.

Some lawmakers want a special session to pass a bill that would give Nebraska more oversight on the proposed pipeline, but is there enough support to do that?

It's a controversy that crosses party lines. Just last week, we saw thousands of people on both sides of the pipeline debate. One of them, a self-proclaimed Republican, is against the construction for environmental reasons, a traditionally more Liberal issue. “It's about standing up for the right thing and the right thing is to not contaminate the water you drink and the water you irrigate your crops with,” said Allen Schreiber.

Then, there's Nebraskans who say it's a jobs issue. “I was on unemployment for ten months. It's very important that this pipeline goes through so we can all have jobs,” said Barbara Mitchell. Two very different sides for the lawmakers to consider.

“I talked to senators yesterday who are interested and still asking questions like I am about specific issue related to the import of passing legislation now. What it would look like. Which agency will oversee the process,” said Speaker for the Legislature, Senator Mike Flood.

So now, Speaker Flood says he's called a meeting for Tuesday, with three other senators and a top TransCanada official. He says there, they'll address concerns regarding route and possible solutions and alternatives. “A facilitated discussion sometimes, not all the times, leads to a productive outcome. I'm not saying that's what this outcome will be, I think it's too early to tell,” he said.

He says if they can't reach an agreement but it does look like enough senators could agree on legislation, that's when they'll discuss a special session. Speaker Flood says some senators are really pushing to make a decision before TransCanada is given a permit, if they are given one. However, the governor is not in favor of a special session. He thinks everything should be left up to the State Department.