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Republicans want Keystone XL Pipeline but company says the project 'will not proceed'

2010 construction on the initial Keystone Pipeline.
Victoria Wicks
2010 construction on the initial Keystone Pipeline.

Republicans across the country are calling for the Keystone XL Pipeline to restart construction to help combat high oil prices, but the company says the canceled project 'will not proceed' as it ends permits and pulls infrastructure out of the ground.

"The Keystone XL pipeline project was terminated in June 2021 and will not proceed," TC Energy said in an email.

"TC Energy has now disposed of almost all of its project-related assets in South Dakota," the Canadian company said in a new report that lists the steps it's taken to exit the state.

The company is also asking the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission for permission to terminate its $15.6 million road bond.

Canceling this bond would be TC Energy's "final step in front of the PUC," according to staff attorney Kristen Edwards.

But Gov. Kristi Noem, South Dakota's congressional delegation, and other Republicans across the country are calling for pipeline construction to restart after Russia invaded Ukraine.

U.S. House Republicans have even introduced a bill, co-sponsored by South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson, that would allow TC Energy to restart the pipeline without a presidential permit.

Republicans say Biden's energy policies — including canceling the KXL Pipeline — mean less leverage and high gas prices for the United States as well as more money and power for Russia's war effort.

But TC Energy is not budging from the decision it made to shutter the project after President Joe Biden revoked the permit it needs to cross into the U.S.

The KXL Pipeline would have connected to the existing Keystone Pipeline to help transport Alberta tar sands oil in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The 1,200-mile pipeline would have traveled southeast through nine South Dakota counties.

The company says it's already helping the U.S. meet its energy needs.

"The existing Keystone Pipeline System is strategically located and continues to be fully utilized," TC Energy said in an email. "It has delivered over 3.3 billion barrels of crude oil to market since 2010. It will continue to provide unique, stable and safe source of energy to meet increasing U.S. energy demands."

Recent steps

TC Energy never installed any Keystone XL pipe in South Dakota but had many agreements in place as it constructed supportive infrastructure

The company owned land for seven pump stations, three of which were nearly complete. It leased land for 10 pipe yards, seven contractor yards and at least two work camps.

TC Energy has been pulling out of South Dakota for months and will ask the PUC during its March 15 meeting for permission to terminate its road bond, public liaison position, and reporting obligations.

The road bond is similar to an insurance policy and TC Energy pays a premium on it each year, Edwards said.

The company still has a construction permit with the PUC that says it must reclaim the land and roads it uses. These permits aren't canceled because they ensure the company will follow through on their promises, Edwards said.

"That's kind of the benefit to having a permit that stays in place because if ever we did find out that there was damage that wasn't repaired we could always go back and call them back in," she said.

The company has a new report with updates on its progress:

  • TC Energy has canceled or transferred multiple road haul, stormwater, and environmental permits.
  • The company sold the three nearly complete pump stations to a salvage company that will remove the infrastructure.
  • The company returned some of its pipe yards and workcamps to the former landowners.
  • The company has sold its pipes being stored in Haakon and Jackson but extended the lease on the pipe yards to the new owners can transfer the pipes.

TC Energy says it will keep working until it reclaims all areas and replaces all property that was removed or damaged during its construction.

Arielle Zionts, rural health care correspondent, is based in South Dakota. She primarily covers South Dakota and its neighboring states and tribal nations. Arielle previously worked at South Dakota Public Broadcasting, where she reported on business and economic development.