|Christensen kills ethanol labeling bill|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 21 April 2011 21:10|
Telephone conference report to Palisade, Grant on Tuesday, April 19
By Josh Sumner
The Wauneta Breeze
Sen. Mark Christensen’s Legislative Bill 698, which would have changed the way ethanol-based fuels are labeled at gas pumps, isn’t likely to see the light of day. The state senator motioned to indefinitely postpone LB 698 last Wednesday.
Opposition emerged last week after the bill underwent what ethanol industry workers considered an unfavorable amendment. The new language in the bill was added to label fuel pumps containing less than 1 percent or less of ethanol. According to Christensen, the ethanol industry wanted no labeling at all.
“Other than continue to fight, we just let it die,” said Christensen. “I still think it would have been a good thing. They didn’t want it, so we didn’t fight for it.”
Pushing the bill through without amendment seemed to be the mission of the ethanol industry, said Christensen, who had already given his word to a group of constituents that the bill would be amended as it moved from general to select file.
Christensen said he has no plans to prioritize the bill in the future, nor does Sen. Tom Carlson, with whom Christensen worked closely in adopting the language in LB 698. Christensen said he doesn’t expect any other state senators to give the bill priority either.
Nebraska would have become only the 15th state in the country to allow no labeling at pumps for fuels blended with alcohol.
Water funding bill makes it to final reading
There was more positive movement for LB 229 last week, which moved to final reading by a 34-4 vote in the legislature.
The bill directs the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources to apply for a 3-year, $9.9 million grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, which would be allocated into a newly-created Water Resources Cash Fund. Money in the new fund would go toward supporting water projects in the state.
Maneuvering by Environmental Trust, which included breaking the allocation into three separate 1-year grants, was unsuccessful, said Christensen.
An amendment to the bill would allow NDNR to apply for an additional 3-year grant if three criteria were met, said Christensen: Projects implemented by the first grant would contribute to conservation, enhancement and restoration of ground water and surface water resources; The Natural Resources Committee would submit a report showing water needs, funding and suggestions for legislation; NDNR would report and confirm that the matching funds of individual Natural Resources Districts are 10 percent or less in-kind funds and projects have matches of at least 40 percent.
Christensen talks redistricting
Sen. Christensen is putting his support behind a legislative map that would add Gosper and Harlan Counties to the 44th Legislative District, and take away Dawson County.
Another configuration, which would see his district lose Perkins County, but hold on to Dawson County, was not among Christensen’s top choices.
“It’s not my preference to lose Perkins County,” said Christensen. “I don’t think it will happen. I think our district can come in basically untouched.”