Legislative Activity

This Week’s Hearings

  • Wednesday, February 26: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Natural Resource Adaptation: Protecting Ecosystems and Economies.”
  • Wednesday, February 26: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold an oversight hearing titled, “American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for Veterans.”
  • Thursday, February 27: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Electricity.”
  • Thursday, February 27: The Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee will hold a hearing to review several bills related to water use and policy.

Regulatory Activity

Nebraska State Court Strikes Down Law Underlying State Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline Route

On Wednesday, February 19, a state district court in Nebraska issued an order striking down Nebraska’s pipeline siting law that Nebraska’s governor relied upon to approve the proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline. The ruling, which was challenged by the State almost immediately after it was issued, concluded that the law was unconstitutional because it grants the governor alternative authority to approve pipeline routes without prior approval by the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) (the traditional pipeline and utility regulator in Nebraska), and granted the governor the power to approve pipeline routes by bestowing eminent domain. This process, according to the court, violated the Nebraska Constitution’s separation of powers clause by divesting the PSC’s its traditional authority and the judicial review that goes along with it. As a consequence, the court invalidated the governor’s decision approving the pipeline route because his authority is based, in the court’s opinion, on an unconstitutional statute.

DOE Finalizes Loan Guarantees for Two New Reactors at Plant Vogtle

On Wednesday, February 19, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it finalized two out of three loan guarantee commitments, amounting to a $6.5 billion, for construction of two new nuclear reactors at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power plant. The two new reactors will be the first constructed in the U.S. in over three decades, and are projected to cost $8.3 billion. The final $1.8 billion of the reactor cost will also be supported by federal loan guarantees which are still being finalized between DOE and the three co-owners of the plant, the Southern Company, Oglethorpe Power, and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. Negotiations for the loan guarantee first began under the Bush Administration, when in 2008 an initial commitment was first made to fund the new nuclear reactors.