Environmental groups say Nebraska panel broke meeting laws

SIDNEY, Neb. (AP) - Two groups say the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission violated state open meeting laws with a hearing last month on a proposed Sioux County wastewater disposal well, and they want the state attorney general to void any action resulting from the hearing.

Bold Nebraska and the Nebraska Sierra Club filed a complaint Tuesday with the office of Attorney General Doug Peterson, requesting an investigation.

The oil and gas commission “attempted to limit the public’s right to be heard, failed to follow both their own rules and state law, and engaged in arbitrary and capricious conduct,” said Ken Winston, Nebraska Sierra Club policy advocate, in an email.

The Associated Press reached out to representatives of the commission and the attorney general for comment Wednesday morning.

Among their complaints, the groups said the commission announced before the hearing that testimony would be limited to only parties living within a half mile of the proposed disposal well.

The commission did allow public comment before the formal hearing on the proposal but stated that none of the comment would be included in the official hearing record or considered by the commission in making its decision. The comments included remarks from state Sen. Ken Haar and a letter submitted by state Sen. John Stinner.

The hearing was on a request by Terex Energy Corp, of Broomfield, Colorado, for permission to truck salty groundwater and chemical-laden fracking wastewater that result from oil searches and production to a ranch north of Mitchell. As much as 10,000 barrels a day of the water would be injected into an old oil well on the ranch.

The state already has more than 140 injection wells for the disposal of wastewater, but the well north of Mitchell would be the largest.

Critics of the proposal have cited possible threats to surface water and the Ogallala aquifer. Company officials deny the plan poses any threat to water resources.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

back to top