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Tribes & DRA Appeal PUC Permit for Keystone XL in SD Supreme Court Tuesday

Assuming Shawn Raynard Ross doesn’t upset the court schedule by flipping ’em the bird tomorrow morning, the South Dakota Supreme Court will turn calmly at 10 a.m. to an appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s January 2016 decision to renew TransCanada’s permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline kittywampus across West River.

The Court will hear appeals from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and Dakota Rural Action. In a press release urging people to pay attention to Tuesday’s hearing, DRA says TransCanada’s proven record of spills on its East River Keystone pipeline, its unproven business case, and its shoddy treatment of landowners along its pipeline routes call into question the merits of renewing their Keystone XL permit:

This appeal started with the original decision by the PUC to grant TransCanada a permit for its pipeline in 2010. Under South Dakota law, if construction had not begun within four years, TransCanada had to go back to the PUC and certify that it could comply with conditions of the original permit. This appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court is from the PUC’s decision to effectively renew the permit after four years.

Since the PUC made its decision, TransCanada’s first pipeline through South Dakota, Keystone 1, has failed twice – despite assurances from TransCanada to the PUC and the people of South Dakota that their pipelines were safe and that risks of spills were virtually nonexistent. Both recent spills in South Dakota have been significant, with the latest one in Marshall County being reported as twice as large as the original estimate, totaling approximately 407,000 gallons – or over 135 tanker trucks of oil.

Many investors are questioning the long-term profitability of fossil fuel infrastructure projects like this pipeline.

“Everyone needs to know this pipeline isn’t a sure thing,” said John Harter, chairperson of Dakota Rural Action. “They tell landowners and the people of South Dakota that they are ready to build but they’ve been leading their investors on for months.”

From the beginning TransCanada has treated landowners shabbily over this pipeline. TransCanada seems to think that South Dakota is an area of “low consequence” and by association doesn’t value the people who live here either.

“We don’t need neighbors who threaten you with eminent domain the first time you meet them,” Harter said [links mine; Dakota Rural Action, press release, 2018.04.15].

TransCanada said in January it has commitments to ship 500,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day for 20 years through Keystone XL and expects to begin construction next year. British Columbia’s resistance to pipeliner Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain project may be increasing the chances that TransCanada really will lay pipe next year.

However, to meet that construction goal, TransCanada has to get through Dakota Rural Action and the tribes in Pierre tomorrow. Nebraskans are also taking TransCanada to their Supreme Court over Keystone XL. The Nebraska Supreme Court will likely hear those arguments this fall.

Related: Fossil-fuel mouthpiece Donald Trump has already forgotten TransCanada CEO Russ Girling’s personal thank-you for greenlighting the pipeline.


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