Dakota Access Doesn’t Want to Show PUC Liability Insurance for Pipeline

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 Pipeline Route near Sioux Falls


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.


20 Responses to Dakota Access Doesn’t Want to Show PUC Liability Insurance for Pipeline

  1. Roger Elgersma

    The PUC does not know how to set proper rates for insurance and bonding anyways. Look at the sunflower plant. Hansen told me at the Sioux Empire Fair that they could not do in better unless they went to the legislature. But if they tell the pipeline people on the side that if they do not tell what their insurance was, then if there is a problem they can just say that they did not know. Then if someone dies behind a grove, we can just blame him. Does anyone with a conscience want a job in government?

  2. Donald Pay

    When I was a Biology major at Augie I spent one summer finding and characterizing native prairie relicts in Minnehaha County. One area that I looked at closely was the area north of Wall Lake. One 40-acre area that I found was later preserved by the Nature Conservancy. It appears the pipeline is going to run pretty close to that area, but I think it misses it.


  3. I’m not dead against pipelines, and I’m not as much against this pipeline as I am say TransCanada because its U.S. oil to be used within the U.S.; at the same time any company that says we aren’t going to show you are insurance or bonding paperwork scares me.

    The state needs to make better regulatory restrictions and protect themselves more then they currently do.

  4. Good deal on the request for liability insurance. The cabal only wants the upfront money as they may be dead and gone by the time of a catastrophic leak disaster. Legislators can use their blood money to move to Kansas or some other exotic place republicans think is their utopia.

  5. Porter Lansing

    “sensitive documents”??? Insurance policies??? C’mon, man.

  6. Paul Seamans

    These pipeline companies are required by the federal agency phmsa (pipeline hazardous material safety administration) to submit an Emergency Response Plan before starting operation. This ERP contains such things as where highly sensitive areas are such as river crossings, aquifers, etc. The ERP also details what measures are to be taken in case of a spill. Through an agreement with the PUC, TransCanada was able to have the ERP declared as sensitive information and the ERP is confidential. First responders along Keystone were given a folder that said, “Emergency Response Plan” and the only thing inside the folder was a telephone number to call in case of an emergency. South Dakota’s first responders are being kept in the dark. The same thing will probably happen with the Dakota Access pipeline.

  7. Paul Seamans

    Let us not forget that a bill was brought forth in the South Dakota legislature to establish a spill fund to reimburse landowners for damages caused by a pipeline spill. This bill was submitted for five years in a row and would have been funded by a two cents per barrel tax. This bill would have only affected large oil pipelines. TransCanada lobbyists were able to kill the bill every time it came up. Legislators claimed it would interfere with interstate commerce. Rounds and Daugaard both worked to kill the bill.

  8. larry kurtz

    Yeah, nothing like a mass shooting in Oregon to overload the news cycle. Oh, well: what should i have expected from the arms dealer to the world anyway?

  9. mike from iowa

    Who is calling the tune here? No documents-no permits. See how easy that was,PUC?

  10. Deb Geelsdottir

    This is crap and Paul Seamans’ comment revealing how deeply the Koch/Republicans are into the pockets of the companies involved is simply atrocious.

    Jerry, this is funny: ” move to Kansas or some other exotic place”

  11. PUC: stand your ground. Good grief, one must provide a certificate of insurance to organize a hike on federal public land. It is not too much for the PUC to require a copy of the insurance policy and all future amendments for something as liability-ridden as a pipeline or the DENR to require the same for a mine (seeing how many turn into superfund sites for the state to clean-up). hat tip to Larry & Cory.

  12. So will Hansen on the puc vote for this <I hope not IF nelson and Hanson vote for any of this you wonder who s side they represent.

  13. Drill, baby, drill. Then keep the oil off those damnable trains that clog up traffic and wreck and explode. Keep drilling until we find dilithium crystals in the bowels of abandoned mines in the Sapa Paha

  14. rollin potter

    And who pays the premium on the insurance if they have one after the pipeline is in the ground and operating?????????

  15. A phone number, Paul? That’s all? It’s as if TransCanada is mocking us. Why should we stand for that?

  16. Paul Seamans

    Cory, yes only a phone number in the folder, nothing else. This was shown to me by a landowner on the Keystone 1. TransCanada does not want us to know where the High Consequence areas are so they are listed in the Emergency Response Plan, which just happens to be confidential (national security reasons and all that good stuff). We have contacted the PUC staff questioning the validity of keeping the ERP confidential. Their response is that the matter of confidentiality is a matter to be taken up with phmsa.

  17. sarah palin has got a front seat “view” of a great big blob of extra-cold water (fresh meltwater, sinking beneath saline cold water) that just may shut off the global conveyor (gulf stream among others) which could really change climate on a dime. keep bubbling through gravy you swill.

    repeating, for your edification, grudz if possible :

    “Exploring new stretches of the galaxy brought NASA scientist William Borucki back to Earth.

    Borucki, 76, retired in July as the principal investigator of NASA’s Kepler Mission, an unmanned spacecraft that has been surveying a portion of the Milky Way for habitable planets since March 2009. The mission has discovered more than 1,000 confirmed planets and inspired many to think about what, if any, life is out there[, but no dilithium crystals as you reference].

    But Borucki said it also made him reconsider life on Earth — and its fate in light of climate change.

    “The Earth is a very special place,” Borucki said in an interview with The Huffington Post last week. “Unless we have the wisdom and technology to protect our biosphere, it could become like many other dead worlds.”

    Borucki, who began his career at NASA in 1962 working on the Apollo mission, was awarded the prestigious Shaw Prize for Astronomy on Wednesday in Hong Kong.” (9.24.15)

  18. Paul, that’s an interesting intersection of Homeland Security and corporate interests… and good reason that we should scale back Washington’s obsession with both.

    Joe, I can understand that the argument against Dakota Access, which will carry a domestic product, is one notch weaker than the argument against the Keystone project, which is dedicated to foreign product. Nonetheless, I’ll still wave a dead-set-against banner on the basis of wrong use of eminent domain (common carrier my foot!) and the broader idea that we should no encourage the easy consumption of more oil. We need more wind turbines, solar panels, and energy efficiency, not more fossil fuels.

  19. Roger Elgersma

    Transporting oil by pipeline is the most efficient method. Transporting tar by pipeline is probably the most inefficient method. Build it the right place and then do it but not with tar going through it.

  20. Roger, riding my bike to work is the most efficient method of reducing the amount of oil or tar we need to move in any new pipeline.