Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light demonstrated significant leadership on policies related to care of the earth in the 2019 legislative session. Here is an end of session update:

LB 243 Gragert. This bill establishes a Task Force to examine issues such as ?environmental resiliency? and ?reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding pollinator and other wildlife habitat, and protecting fragile ecosystems for a more sustainable future.???Healthy soils are vital to preventing erosion and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Board chair Penny Greer testified in support of the bill at the hearing and we supported it throughout the process.Passed and signed by Governor.?We are currently working with allies to get good people appointed to the Task Force.

LB 227 Hughes. Amend the Right to Farm Act.?The original bill would have prohibited legal claims against agricultural operations that create environmental degradation negatively impacting their neighbors. Nebraska IPL was the only organization to oppose the bill at the hearing. We were able to get other organizations to join us in opposing the bill and coordinated the opposition including a citizen lobbying effort. This effort led to amendments that protect the rights of farmers, ranchers and other rural residents to defend themselves from environmental degradation by irresponsible operators.?Passed and signed by Governor.

LB 405 Hunt, Update state energy codes from 2009 to 2018 standards. Although we didn?t testify at the hearing, we sent several messages to senators and allies encouraging support for the bill.?Passed and signed by Governor.

LB 124 Crawford. This bill clarifies the authority of municipalities to create joint districts authorizing the use of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACE is a mechanism that allows the use of assessments on property to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.??Passed and signed by Governor.

LB 155 Brewer. Remove language stating that transmission for wind development is a public use. The bill was amended with intent language about protecting the Sandhills and providing a rebuttable presumption that eminent domain for wind transmission lines is a public use.?Although some observers believe this bill will negatively impact wind development, representatives of several major public power districts and some environmental attorneys doubt the changes will have any impact. Nebraska IPL did not testify at the hearing but provided messages to senators and clean energy allies about concerns.?Passed and signed by Governor.

LB 700 Bostelman. Require complete removal of wind development infrastructure. This bill would make wind development much more expensive by requiring complete removal of all wind development infrastructure. There is no similar requirement for other forms of energy. Nebraska IPL opposed the bill through contacts to senators after it advanced to the floor of the Legislature.?General File. Failed to advance after 3 hours of debate.

LB 373 Brewer. Provide setback and zoning requirements for wind energy. This bill is another attempt to stop wind development by imposing onerous and unnecessary zoning requirements. Nebraska IPL testified against the bill.?Still in Committee.

LB 283 Pansing-Brooks. Provide for a Climate Change Action Plan.?The University of Nebraska would be given the task of putting together a climate action plan for the state. The bill recites the impacts of climate change and reasons for action. Nebraska IPL supported the bill, including testimony at the hearing and efforts to get it advanced from committee, including seeking alternative funding sources.?Still in Committee.

LR 241 Pansing-Brooks and others. This is a legislative interim study ?to develop an environmental action plan for the state, including assessments of vulnerability, risks, economic impacts, and mitigation strategies.? The study appears to be an attempt to put together a plan to address issues resulting from the floods that devastated large portions of Nebraska this spring and deal with some of the issues intended to be addressed by LB 283, which is still in committee. However, there are several concerns about this study, including the fact that it does not use the words ?climate change? or ?climate crisis? and three of the seven committee members are opponents of renewable energy. Nebraska IPL intends to provide input into this committee about the challenges of the climate crisis and opportunities for mitigation and adaptation to the extent possible.

There are several other interim studies that we are following, including LR 145, which examines issues related to residential PACE development. We intend to keep people informed about hearings and other opportunities for input during the interim.

For more information contact:

Ken Winston
Director of Policy and Outreach
Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light
kwinston@inebraska.com?402-212-3737