KOTA-TV reports the Governor Kristi Noem met with TransCanada officials to discuss “an agreement regarding the Keystone XL pipeline.” The Canadian pipeliner already has the PUC’s permission to seize land and imperil West River’s water supplies with its tar sands oil pipeline; apparently Governor Noem is trying to make it look like she’s tough by dickering over how much TransCanada has to pay for emergency response plans. South Dakotans can rest assured that Governor Noem will crack down on her inaugural donors. (Anyone want to set odds on TransCanada’s hiring Noem’s other daughter as its next pipeline liaison?)
But Noem can’t agree to let our Canadian overlords start setting up labor camps or blading the route. On Friday, federal Judge Brian Morris denied TransCanada’s request to start pre-construction work on the U.S. portion of the Keystone XL route. Judge Morris suspended that work in November when he ruled that the Trump Administration violated the law in reversing the Obama Administration’s rejection TransCanada’s Keystone XL application. Judge Morris also signaled that TransCanada’s convos with Noem may be for naught:
Today, the court largely stood by that ruling, finding that TransCanada is unlikely to succeed on its appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It also ruled that TransCanada remains blocked from constructing worker camps and conducting most other pre-construction activity along the pipeline route. The court did allow TransCanada to store pipe in storage yards located off the pipeline right of way, but only on private land that has been properly surveyed and analyzed. The court noted that any investment of resources would be at the company’s own peril.
“Today’s ruling does nothing to change the obvious fact that Keystone XL will never be built,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “After a decade of trying to force this pipeline on the American people, it’s time for TransCanada to finally get the message and give up” [Sierra Club, press release, 2019.02.15].
But don’t worry, Kassidy; if you can’t get your younger daughter a job with TransCanada, I’m sure you can find a spot for her on the state payroll with her big sis. Surely the Department of Tourism needs some more warm bodies for the summer season….
Judge Morris will hear arguments on motions to dismiss the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Fort Belknap Indian Community’s lawsuit from TransCanada and fellow defendant the U.S. State Department on April 10 in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, Montana.
Bonus Boneheadedness: On January 18, TransCanada and the State Department asked the judge to extend their deadline for responding past February 4 because the Trump shutdown prohibited the Department of Justice lawyers Jean E Williams and Luther L Hajek from working on the case. The plaintiffs did not oppose the motion, but three days after ten air traffic controllers ended the shutdown, Judge Morris denied their motion, saying, “To stay these proceedings, however, due to the Federal Government’s failure to reopen and deny the Plaintiffs the right to be heard in relation to these alleged harms would contradict the interests of justice.”