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Keystone XL Pipeline Hearings Delayed; New Date TBA

Photo by Victoria Wicks
The first Keystone pipeline, shown here under construction, passes north to south through eastern South Dakota. The proposed KXL pipeline angles through the western half of the state.

The permit to allow Keystone XL Pipeline to cross South Dakota is on hold until later this summer. A hearing set for early May has been postponed to late July or early August, to allow opponents’ attorneys to sort through volumes of information delivered by TransCanada just ten days ago. This documents dump came after the Public Utilities Commission ordered the pipeline company to turn over all information requested by parties by April 17th.

At a special hearing held Monday morning, pipeline opponents testified that the schedule didn’t permit them to adequately examine thousands of pages of information released by TransCanada ten days ago.

Commissioner Gary Hanson made the motion to continue. He says opponents could have made their requests for materials a couple of months earlier. But he also says the PUC helped to create the problem by ordering so much information to be released, rather than narrowing the scope.

Chairman Chris Nelson warned parties that they’ll have to be ready for the hearing later this summer.

“I was so mentally ready to do this next week,” Nelson said. “I’m anxious to get at this. I’m anxious to hear the arguments of both sides and to wrestle with that and make the proper decision, and so from a personal perspective, I wish this wasn’t happening, but I think in the interests of justice and due process, I’m going to need to support the motion.”

The PUC permitted construction of the pipeline in 2010, but TransCanada failed to finish the project within four years. Now the company has to prove that it can meet the conditions the PUC imposed earlier.

The PUC will confirm the new hearing date at its regular meeting held April 30.

Rapid City freelancer Victoria L. Wicks has been producing news for SDPB since August 2007.
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