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PUC Votes 2-1 To Approve Dakota Access Oil Pipeline

Public Utilities Commissioners have approved a permit for an oil pipeline built across eastern South Dakota. The pipeline is more than 1,100 miles long and will transport crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois. Commissioners approved the permit with conditions on a split vote.

The local segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline stretches from the North Dakota border 272 miles across South Dakota to the Iowa state line. It includes one pump station, and the proposed route crosses 13 eastern South Dakota counties.

Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hanson says he disapproves of a pipeline slated for the fast-growing region including Sioux Falls, Harrisburg, and Tea.

“We should not build this type of infrastructure close to highly populated areas or areas in the path of economic growth unless it is necessary to do so – and, in fact, in this instance it is not necessary,” Hanson says. “It is fact that the Dakota Access pipeline does not need to be built through this corridor. The Dakota Access witnesses actually testify that the pipeline does not need to be based in this location.”

Hanson says those witnesses say the route is the shortest possible distance. He says the current plan conflicts with state law, because he thinks Dakota Access unduly interferes with growth.

PUC Chairman Chris Nelson disagrees. He says the pipeline route runs along growth areas established by cities and most local leaders never tried to intervene.

“Their locally-elected officials have the ability to intervene in this process. Harrisburg did not. Tea did not. Lincoln County did and didn’t offer a word,” Nelson says. “The City of Sioux Falls did, and their sole concern was to how the pipeline related to their landfill and were willing to negotiate an acceptable settlement in that area.”

Nelson and acting commissioner Rich Sattgast support approving the pipeline permit with certain conditions. Commissioner Gary Hanson is the only vote against the Dakota Access Pipeline, so the PUC is granting the permit on a 2 to 1 decision.

South Dakota counties counties affected by the pipeline include the following: Campbell, McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk, Spink, Beadle, Kingsbury, Miner, Lake, McCook, Minnehaha, Turner and Lincoln.

Visit the South Dakota PUC websiteto see a Frequently Asked Questions list regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).