2012-2013 NeFU Special Orders of Business
1). Farm Bill
WHEREAS, extreme weather events have increased uncertainty and variability in agriculture production and pricing;
WHEREAS, livestock producers are struggling with drought conditions, lack of water, lack of forage, and increasing feed costs;
WHEREAS, conservation programs in the Farm Bill are often the most effective means of mitigating drought, flooding and other extreme weather events;
WHEREAS, price supports and safety nets provided in the Farm Bill increase stability in the marketplace;
WHEREAS, drought relief for livestock producers in the Farm Bill is vital for keeping these producers and their operations viable during extreme conditions;
WHEREAS, the Farm Bill is the single most important piece of legislation affecting agriculture nationwide;
WHEREAS, this is the first time since 1933 that Congress has not passed a Farm Bill;
WHEREAS, the United States Senate has already passed a version of the Farm Bill;
WHEREAS, NeFU does not support at short-term extension as an adequate remedy for the Farm Bill.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE NEBRASKA FARMERS UNION urge the House of Representatives to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill as soon as possible, based on the bi-partisan bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee.
2). Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)
WHEREAS, Nebraska is the #2 ethanol producing state in the U.S.;
WHEREAS, ethanol has been an enormous driver of economic development and job creation inNebraska;
WHEREAS, ethanol has added value to commodity prices;
WHEREAS, the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has been the key driver of ethanol demand;
WHEREAS, the RFS will continue to drive 2nd generation bio-fuels which create additional markets for farmers;
WHEREAS, removal of the RFS will not relieve livestock feed shortages caused by the drought as distillers grains are still being utilized and ethanol production co-products are a key component of many livestock rations;
WHEREAS, removal of the RFS will only increase the potential for a more volatile climate since biofuel production is one of the key mitigators of climate change caused by increased Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere;
WHEREAS, removal of the RFS would only make future production shortfalls more likely;
WHEREAS, implementation of the Strategic Grain Reserve would be a better alternative for feed shortage relief and would create an additional safety net and market for farmers;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE NEBRASKA FARMERS UNION support keeping the RFS standard in place.
3). Climate Change
WHEREAS, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere are causing radical climate change in the world;
WHEREAS,Nebraskaagriculture could be drastically changed if the climate issue is not addressed immediately;
WHEREAS, farmers and ranchers have an enormous opportunity to provide leadership to help mitigate rising GHG gases with the development of new renewable energy and conservation markets;
WHEREAS, further development of these new markets would yield significant economic opportunity forNebraska;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMBERS THE NEBRASKA FARMERS UNION urge our policy makers to immediately enact comprehensive climate and energy policy that will put a price on carbon and a portion of those dollars created will go to increase development of new renewable energy and conservation markets designed to help mitigate rising greenhouse gases.
4). Wind Energy
WHEREAS, Nebraska has the 4th most wind potential in the United States;
WHEREAS,Nebraska is not in the top 25 in wind developed;
WHEREAS, increased wind energy development would lead to increased rural economic development opportunities in Nebraska;
WHEREAS, increased wind energy development would add important property tax revenue into rural communities;
WHEREAS, increased wind energy development would help conserve water, the most important resource on our planet;
WHEREAS,Nebraska’s energy grid would be more secure with more localized energy development;
WHEREAS,Nebraska is not able to export a significant part of its wind energy potential due to infrastructure costs of building new transmission lines;
WHEREAS,Nebraska needs to identify available capacity on existing transmission lines in order to pick up the pace of development;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE NEBRASKA FARMERS UNION calls for a long-term extension of the production tax credit;
FURTHERMORE, NeFU requests a statewide study identifying available capacity on existing transmission lines in order to create a roadmap for distributed wind and renewable energy development;
FURTHERMORE, NPPD should work to develop a statewide plan to implement distributed wind and renewable energy development plan with the findings of this study;
IN ADDITION, NPPD is not considering all costs when considering new energy generation options;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE NEBRASKA FARMERS UNION propose that rural economic development, use of water, health care costs, environmental costs, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions be included in state statute, regarding public power’s mission statement of only providing consumers with lowest present value rates.
5). Keystone XL Pipeline
WHEREAS, diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” also known as “tarsands” or “oilsands” crude is not recognized by Congress or the Internal Revenue Service as “crude oil,” thereby relieving pipeline companies such as TransCanada from paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is utilized to pay for damages and clean-up costs in the event of pipeline leaks and spills;
WHEREAS, TransCanada has never released an ingredients list of the chemical components of diluted bitumen toNebraskaemergency responders;
WHEREAS, major oil pipeline companies such as TransCanada are not bound byNebraskalaw to pay economic damages to landowners in the event of pipeline leaks and spills;
WHEREAS, current Nebraska law grants foreign oil pipeline companies such as TransCanada the privilege of eminent domain even if a federal permit has not been issued for the project;
WHEREAS, the legislature’s taking of pipeline siting and routing power from the Nebraska Public Service Commission and granting it to the Governor is likely unconstitutional, thereby rendering illegitimate the process by which the currently proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline is being reviewed;
WHEREAS, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s review has failed to accomplish its objective of keeping the pipeline away from areas of sandy soils high water tables;
WHEREAS, the NDEQ review has failed to accomplish its objective of keeping the pipeline from crossing the Ogallala aquifer;
WHEREAS, the NDEQ review process and the Draft Report itself has not been transparent or accessible to manyNebraskacitizens,
WHEREAS, HDR, the firm conducting the NDEQ review, has a clear conflict of interest in that matter due to previous contracting with TransCanada;
WHEREAS, Governor Dave Heineman has publicly called for denial of the permit for the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline if the pipeline route crosses the Ogallala aquifer;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE NEBRASKA FARMERS UNION call on Governor Heineman to reject the review done by the NDEQ and restore the pipeline routing and siting process back to the Public Service Commision where it belongs;
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the State Department to conduct its own Environmental Review of Nebraska Reroute of the Keystone XL as part of its Environmental Impact Statement, and that the EIS include an assessment of the pipeline’s life-cycle impacts on climate change;
FURTHER, we urge the Nebraska Legislature to repeal 2012’s LB1161, to eliminate eminent domain loopholes that allow oil pipeline companies to use eminent domain, and to require that all ingredients and chemical components of diluted bitumen must be released to Nebraska emergency responders and other appropriate agencies.
IN ADDITION, we call on President Obama to deny the permit for the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline due to the above mentioned conditions. NeFU will not support the Keystone XL pipeline unless all of the above mentioned conditions are resolved.
WHEREAS, reduction or elimination of the state income tax would put undue burden on Nebraska landowners as property taxes would rise;
WHEREAS, reduction or elimination of the state income tax would lead to increased sales tax in Nebraska;
WHEREAS, we support a balanced approach to taxation so that all areas carry a fair and equal (to extent possible) burden;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE NEBRASKA FARMERS UNION oppose any effort to reduce or eliminate the state income tax as a remedy to balancing the state budget;
FURTHERMORE, we support raising the income tax in order to lower rising property taxes.