The Public Utilities Commission just did opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline a favor. At the request of Dakota Rural Action and four South Dakota tribes (you know, real South Dakotans, the ones who elect the PUC, the folks who will have to live with the consequences of a tar sands oil pipeline in their backyard), the PUC has postponed its evidentiary hearing on reauthorizing Transcanada’s permit to build the pipeline across western South Dakota. Originally scheduled to start on next week Tuesday, May 5, the Keystone XL hearing will take place later this summer, perhaps sometime in late July.
The PUC had also graciously scheduled a public input session on Keystone XL for Monday, May 4. THe PUC is working on an official announcement on what will happen with that event.
One opponent says that this delay is vital, since Transcanada is up to its usual tactics of withholding requested discovery documents until the last possible moment, then dumping huge quantities of documents on opponents to sift through on deadline. This extension gives intervenors a chance to separate the oil from the grit and fully prepare their case for the PUC
Here’s the press release from Dakota Rural Action:
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has granted a request to delay the Keystone XL Pipeline certification hearings until later this summer.
Late last week several parties, including Dakota Rural Action and all four intervening South Dakota tribes, filed a joint motion to continue the hearing, originally scheduled to begin next week. The parties argued the schedule set by the Public Utilities Commission was too tight and did not allow for due process.
John Harter, Dakota Rural Action member and landowner crossed by Keystone XL:
“I pointed out the issues with the hearing timeline back when they set the schedule. I’m out working my cattle 16 hours a day; May was the worst time for a hearing. Later this summer is what the schedule should have been in the first place. It was a judicious decision to move the hearing back so that the poeple can have their day in court against Keystone XL” [Dakota Rural Action, press release, 2015.04.27].
Intervenors, you’ve got your extension; now make the most of it. Protesters, keep recruiting and rallying, and get ready to fill the seats and streets in Pierre this summer.