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Bordeaux Bills Block Oil Pipelines, Give Tribes Veto Power on Black Hills Mining

Rep. Shawn Bordeaux
Rep. Bordeaux, fighting the good fight.

Shannon Marvel notices one good bill among the 529 now piled into the Legislative hopper. House Bill 1223 would place a moratorium on the construction of new oil pipelines starting July 1. Rep. Shawn Bordeaux (D-26A/Mission) is the prime sponsor; his neighbor and Senate lead sponsor Troy Heinert (D-26/Rosebud) says HB 1223 is a “constituent-driven bill.” Expect House Commerce and Energy to drive HB 1223 into the ground on Monday at 10:00 a.m.

—Speaking of pipelines, the most recent update from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources says that as of last Monday at 1 p.m., TransCanada had removed 3,542 truckloads of dirt—just about 71,000 cubic yards—from its Keystone pipeline spill site southeast of Amherst in Marshall County. They’ve been targeting 150–160 loads a day. A January 26 DENR update says that TransCanada discovered a “hot spot of contaminated soil in the northwest corner of the excavation area.” Evidently the pipeline builders buried a “rig matting“—one of the big timbers laid down to make a temporary solid path for machinery—which provided a path of less resistance for oil in the soil. (Memo to pipeline builders: pick up your junk!)—

Rep. Bordeaux brings to that same Monday hearing before House Commerce and Energy House Bill 1224, which would require any mining operations in the Black Hills to obtain consent from each of the nine federally recognized tribes in South Dakota. That seems perfectly reasonable—the Black Hills do belong to the tribes, according to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Our Senate did just recognize the validity of that treaty, but hey—we can’t even get our Legislature to intervene when TransCanada lays pipeline without the consent of white landowners; let’s not get our hopes up for any greater consideration for Indians with land claims.


  1. Robert McTaggart 2018-02-03 12:14

    A better bill would be one that supports recharging infrastructure for alternative vehicles with solar, wind, and new transmission lines. But that would take money. And people would likely complain about the transmission lines instead of the pipelines.

    If you don’t want pipelines, either get used to more truck and train traffic, or buy a vehicle that does not use any refined oil product…then they won’t build the pipelines any more.

    Given that the public is not going to stop driving any time soon and the recharging infrastructure is not there yet, the best thing to do is to continually improve pipeline safety. So where is the bill to sponsor more pipeline inspection?

  2. Donald Pay 2018-02-03 15:41

    I’d like to see these concepts get some discussion at minimum. The problem is these are just in concept form, and seem as if there will be some specific language hoghoused into them. These bills need to be fleshed out with specific amendments to specific code sections, etc. The mining bill would require amendments to several different parts of the code.

    The pipeline moratorium bill may need some fleshing out as well. Generally a moratorium places some date or specific requirement, after which the moratorium is lifted. Something such as this, “There will be a moratorium on pipeline construction until an applicant for a permit to construct and operate a pipeline in the State of South Dakota can demonstrate that any similar pipeline constructed within the United States has not leaked within the last 10 years, and does not have a potential to degrade or destroy to groundwater resources in the State of South Dakota.”

  3. mike from iowa 2018-02-03 15:46

    Doc, if I bought an electric vehicle today, would that stop a single foot of a single pipeline from being put where ever big money wants?

    My financial situation won’t allow me to spend much on a dependable vehicle, my legs and back won’t allow me to walk, ride a horse or a bicycle. And I am smidgen too large for someone to carry comfortably.

    I’m stuck with the cheapest transportation I can buy and pipelines are stuck with me protesting hem.

  4. Robert McTaggart 2018-02-03 16:20

    You have hit the nail on the head. The vehicles that are refueled with fuels delivered by pipelines are cheaper up front to own. Infrastructure is one thing, but affordability for the average worker is another.

    Oprah is not coming along to give everybody a free electric car (Sorry).

  5. Robert McTaggart 2018-02-03 18:00

    In addition to improving pipeline safety, we should also support the alternatives by improving the ability to recycle the wastes from renewables.

    Those have an impact on water resources when they are simply thrown away, but they are not as immediate as a leak. It would also help to reduce the mining that is necessary to generate the supply for the critical elements.

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