Conservation Legislation 2017

The Nebraska Legislature is in its 105th Legislative Session, and we need your help.

On this page, you'll find the full list of bills that NLCV has taken a position on. We encourage you to contact your Senator regarding these pieces of legislation. You can find out who your State Senator is and how to contact them here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_find.php 

Every year, we select bills to target. Our targeted bills are those that we have determined need an additional push of grassroots engagement, and we will invest additional resources in seeing that the bills are either passed or defeated, depending on our position. These are the bills that we need you to talk to your friends and family about, and attend the hearings if possible. 

The structure of this page is as follows:

  • Bill (hyperlinked to the bill text on nebraskalegislature.gov)
  • Introducer (including party affiliation and district)
  • Status (in committee, placed on general file, etc.)
  • Summary of bill
  • Bulleted notes that provide context for the bill and/or additional information about the issue the bill proposes to address
  • NLCV position

Please feel free to contact us at info@nlcv.org if you have questions or would like more information. 

 

NLCV Targeted Bills

 

  • LB 87Net Metering
  • LB 504Sandhills Wind Energy Moratorium
  • LB 533Wastewater Injection Wells
  • LR 4Water Study

 

LR 4 – NLCV Targeted Bill

Introduced by Carol Blood (Dem-3), Co-sponsored by Justin Wayne (Dem-13), Tony Vargas (Dem-7) name added

Status: Referred to Executive Board (No date set)

This resolution requires the Natural Resources Committee of the Legislature to conduct an interim study to nitrate-nitrogen (and other chemicals) impacting water quality in the state of Nebraska. The study shall explore if a more comprehensive water quality study is needed. Additionally, the study will also include an analysis of best grasses for filtration and the best plantings for forests. The committee shall make a report of its findings and recommendations to the Legislative Council of the Legislature.

  • Water is very important to the people of Nebraska and the economy of Nebraska, therefore, the assessment of water quality is important for the longevity of the state. 

Position: Support

 

LB 71

Introduced by Patty Pansing Brooks (Dem-28)

Status: Referred to Appropriations Committee (No date set)

Changes the intent language on appropriations for the Nebraska Tree Recovery Program from $250,000 annually to $3 million annually. The NE Forest Service of the University of Nebraska and the Natural Resources Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife administer the grant program to fund tree removal, disposal and replacement costs.

  • This bill amends a twenty-year old annual allocation of $250,000 to $3 million.

Position: Support

 

LB 87 – NLCV Targeted Bill

Introduced by Carol Blood (Dem-3)

Status: Notice of hearing for February 22, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This bill raises the net-metering cap from 25KW to 100KW. It also raises the limit at which utilities can start refusing additional renewable energy from 1% to 5% of the capacity necessary to meet the local distribution utility's average aggregate customer monthly peak demand forecast for that calendar year. The bill also allows for farms and urban businesses with more than one electrical meter to generate energy from one location to be used at another less-feasible location.

  • It would promote more renewable energy generation.

Position: Support

 

LB 182

Introduced by Dan Hughes (Rep-44)

Status: Placed on General File (Will go to the floor for debate)

Amends the Nebraska Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Act to allow for public water supply systems that serve populations of 10,000 or less to be eligible for low interest loans and grants for the development, treatment and distributions of drinking water supplies

  • Changes criteria for eligibility for loans from total population within a political subdivision to total population actually served by the water district.

Position: Neutral

 

LB 218

Introduced by Mike Groene (Rep-42)

Status: Notice of hearing for February 15, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This bill proposes to place restriction on the use of land and water used for augmentation projects for interstate compacts. The Department of Natural Resources may adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to implement the proposal. The bill requires public comment and notice, in-person testimonies, and a five-year oversight and review. The review calls for effects on other individuals, additional need for groundwater, effect on surface water, effect of individual interests within five miles of the pump, and sustainability of water tables.

  • This bill was introduced in reaction to NCORPE. NCORPE is Nebraska’s solution for compliance with the Republican River Compact and is part of Nebraska’s agreement with Kansas. NCORPE will divert water from Nebraska to Kansas.

Position: Neutral

 

LB 352

Introduced by Tony Vargas (Dem-7)

Status: Notice of hearing for March 2, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This act will simplify and standardize alternative energy application procedures in order to stimulate solar development. The State Energy Office will create an online application process that can save time and human resources, therefore save taxpayer dollars, while driving new revenue into Nebraska.

Position: Support

 

LB 392

Introduced by Tyson Larson (Rep-40), Co-sponsored by Justin Wayne (Dem-13)

Status: Notice of hearing for February 9, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This act shall establish a process, including criteria and standards, to recognize and assist efforts of counties to create, maintain, or expand wind energy opportunities under the Wind Friendly Counties Act carried out by the Director of Agriculture.

Position: Support

 

LB 494

Introduced by Tom Briese (Rep-41)

Status: Hearing was held February 2, 2017 – Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee (no action taken yet)

This act will amend Nebraska Revised Statute Chapter 84 Section 712.05 to be able to withhold critical physical and cyber assets of energy infrastructure, including records, maps, drawings, equipment, data, personnel information, or related information that may pose a threat to public safety.

  • The bill is too broad – could allow for our utilities to unreasonably reduce transparency.

Position: Oppose

 

LB 504 – NLCV Targeted Bill

Introduced by Tom Brewer (Rep-43), Mike Groene (Rep-42) name added

Status: Notice of hearing for March 1, 2017 – Natural Resources

This act will put a two-year moratorium, starting on January 1, 2018, on developing industrial development of wind-generated energy projects and placement of wind turbines for the generation of electricity within the 19,300-square-mile sand dune formation known as the Sandhills. The Director of Natural Resources shall appoint a task force to study and make recommendations.

  • This bill is too broad and lacks the nuance that would make it a true conservation bill. 
  • As written, it is an anti-wind energy bill rather than a pro-conservation bill. Although land conservation can be seen as an outcome of the bill, no other types of infrastructure are banned from the Sandhills, undermining that objective. 
  • The area delineated by the bill is equal to nearly 25% of the State of Nebraska.
  • Development of wind energy must be done in a sustainable manner, however this bill prevents wind development completely in a quarter of our state and prevents Nebraskans from reaping the economic and environmental benefits of this cleaner energy source. 

Position: Oppose

 

LB 533 – NLCV Targeted Bill

Introduced by Tony Vargas (Dem-7)

Status: Notice of hearing for March 2, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This act will require proof of liability insurance (in the amount of $5 million or more) for permit applicants for enhanced recovery injection wells or wastewater disposal well. Additionally, this bill will restrict permit issuance based on location of the enhanced recovery injection well or for a wastewater disposal well. The location may not be in an area where the depth of the drinking water aquifer begins less than 50 ft. below the surface of the ground or within Level III Ecoregion 44 (basically the Sandhills).

  • When it comes to the question of whether fracking causes earthquakes, scientists seem to agree the it is the wastewater injection wells that are the problem, not the fracking process itself.
  • There are documented cases where the casings that were supposed to stop the wastewater from escaping and migrating into drinking water failed. These incidents have primarily occurred in older wells, which had different requirements than newer wells.

Position: Support

 

LB 547

Introduced by Dan Watermeier (Rep-1)

Status: Notice of hearing for March 1, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This act will restrict public power's ability to use eminent domain against privately developed and operated electric generation. This bill's intent is to encourage the free market economy of electric retail.

  • This bill is a step toward dismantling our public power system. 

Position: Oppose

 

LB 610

Introduced by Rick Kolowski (Dem-31)

Status: Notice of hearing for February 22, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This act will authorize the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund to allocate grants for a community solar project or solar "garden." The electric output must be sold to an electric utility or a political subdivision. The solar project may be run by a public power district, a nonprofit organization, or political subdivision(s). No grant awarded may exceed more than 25% of the cost of the community solar project(s).

Position: Monitor

 

LB 625

Introduced by Tyson Larson (Rep-40)

Status: Notice of hearing for February 14, 2017 – Urban Affairs Committee

This bill expands PACE by allowing counties to qualify, in addition to municipalities. It would streamline reporting and add modification of agricultural equipment to the list of activities that qualifies as “energy efficiency” measures.  

Position: Support

 

LB 626

Introduced by Tyson Larson (Rep-40)

Status: Notice of hearing for February 9, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This act will authorize local distribution utilities to establish a shared community solar energy generating system upon receipt of a request by a qualified organization of customer-generators. The program shall provide credits for the electricity produced by the projects.

  • Section 3 (3f) has not established the maximum kilowatts of electricity generating capacity. -  "(f) Has a generating capacity that does not exceed XX kilowatts as measured by the alternating current rating of the system’s inverter”.
  • Section 4 (3) extends that there will be a study done of the information gathered, which would be great data for Nebraska.
  • Credits the electricity generated through virtual net metering.

Position: Monitor

*Monitor the kilowatt limit

 

LB 646

Introduced by Patty Pansing Brooks (Dem-28)

Status: Hearing held February 6 (no further action taken)

This bill creates the Pests, Drought, Flood, and Extreme Weather Mitigation and Preparedness Plan Task Force to develop a strategic plan for climate change.

Position: Support

 

LB 657

Introduced by Justin Wayne (Dem-13)

Status: Notice of hearing for February 16, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This act will require public power to provide unbundled information about their electric bills. Effective on or before July 1, 2018, every retail electric supplier in the state shall provide unbundled and transparent billing to their customer-owners. When new rates are implemented, the retail electric supplier shall provide general information explaining changes in rates. The Public Service Commission may adopt rules and regulations to carry out this act.

  • Increase transparency between public power and their customers.
  • Increase public notice, as well as public’s ability to contest new rates.
  • May create a push for free market energy distribution down the line.
  • May undermine the institution of public power.

Position: Neutral

 

LB 660

Introduced by Justin Wayne (Dem-13)

Status: Notice of hearing for February 16, 2017 – Natural Resources Committee

This act will permit the competition of electric sales. Effective July 1, 2018, private electric suppliers shall be authorized to engage in the sale of electricity at retail. No electric supplier shall have the right to exercise eminent domain over any facilities, real estate, or other property.

  • This bill is a step toward dismantling our public power system.

Position: Oppose