By the time you read this newsletter, the Legislature will have reached the halfway point of the legislative session, with all day debate scheduled to begin on February 28. We senators have also by now designated our priority bills.
My priority bill this session is LB 845 which amends the Oil Pipeline Reclamation Act of 2011. This bill fulfills the promise I made last fall to strengthen Nebraska’s reclamation requirements in 2012. LB 845 establishes reclamation requirements as part of the oil pipeline construction process but has no effect on pipeline permitting at the state or federal level.
While there are Nebraskans who may disagree, I believe the construction of new oil pipelines is important to our energy future. I also believe that restoring Nebraska’s land and protecting landowners following pipeline construction is vitally important.
LB 845 requires pipeline construction areas to be restored as close as reasonably practicable to the condition, contour and vegetation that existed prior to construction. It says that disturbed areas must be stabilized; a diverse native plant environment established; active cropland restored; noxious weeds mitigated; and invasive plants managed. Landowners are also allowed to make contractual arrangements for reclamation on their land.
The bill sets a 30-day deadline after backfill for final grading, topsoil replacement, installation of erosion control structures, seeding and mulching. Deadline exceptions are granted for weather conditions, extenuating circumstances or unforeseen developments.
Seed mixes, reseeding methods, weed and erosion control measures and monitoring must comply with the Federal Seed Act, the Nebraska Seed Law and the Noxious Weed Control Act. There must be a preconstruction site inventory to determine genetically appropriate, locally adapted native plants and seeds to be used. I’ve asked the Natural Resources Committee to remove a section of the bill that would have required the use of certified seed. There are local sources of native seed for grassland restoration available through independent prairie seed businesses in the state that would serve the purpose just as well and be more available. Mulching is required based on site contours, seeding methods, weather conditions or by landowner request.
LB 845 ensures that reclamation following pipeline construction is completed in a timely manner using scientific methods proven to work in Nebraska.
If you have questions regarding this newsletter, legislation or state issues, please call my legislative office at (402) 471-2631. There is Voicemail on my phone so if you get the recording, please leave a message and I’ll get back to you. You may also write to me c/o P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or email me at: email@example.com. If you write or email, please include your full name and mailing address.