Larry Kurtz is right: we the media are devoting too much time and electrons to one guy getting hurt by one young idiot with a gun and not enough to the Dakota Access pipeline hearings before the Public Utilities Commission, happening this week and next.
The highlight from yesterday’s session in Pierre is the refusal of Dakota Access lawyer Brett Koenecke to provide its liability insurance policies to the PUC:
Brett Koenecke, of Pierre, said he needed the weekend to prepare the company’s argument against providing the insurance policies.
Diane Best, a lawyer for Sioux Falls, asked for three days after Koenecke’s filing to prepare a response.
She wants the insurance policies to be presented for Dakota Access, its parent companies and affiliates.
Koenecke said he would “resist vigorously” her request.
“We think we got solid reasons for doing so. We’re not just saying no. We’re saying no for a reason,” Koenecke said. “Those are very sensitive documents” [Bob Mercer, “Dakota Access Doesn’t Want to Reveal Its Liability Coverage to State Regulators,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2015.10.01].
State law requires pipeline companies to file annual reports containing all sorts of sensitive information, including the location and value of all buildings and pumping stations in the state. A state law passed in 2014 requires pipeliners to submit a certificate of “commercial general liability insurance with a combined single limit of a minimum of five million dollars for each occurrence and an aggregate limit of at least ten million dollars.” It doesn’t seem out of line for the PUC to require that Dakota Access demonstrate is has taken out sufficient insurance to cover any damage their construction or operations may do to East River. Sure, their business papers may be sensitive, but so is our land and infrastructure.
Dakota Access may face more pressure to open up about its liability insurance an other matters because, unlike Keystone 1 and the still-pending Keystone XL, it runs right the by the most populated area of the state. Check out this map from the PUC’s Dakota Access docket:
Dakota Access runs within shouting distance of a couple hundred thousand South Dakotans. Tea and Harrisburg in particular may not want that pipeline cutting off their growth. At the very least, they’ll want Dakota Access to guarantee they have the insurance to clean up any spills and not leave their municipal and county governments holding the bag for any emergency responses and environmental boo-boos. That doesn’t seem a lot to ask for landowners and city planners who will host the externalities that will make Dakota Access’s profits possible.