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Company Begins to Remove Keystone XL Infrastructure, Permits from SD

Victoria Wicks
In 2010, TransCanada completed a Keystone pipeline that runs through eastern South Dakota. This photo was taken during construction in 2009, near Carpenter, S.D. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is routed on an angle through the western part of the state

TC Energy is starting to pull out of South Dakota after it cancelled its Keystone XL Pipeline project in June. That decision was made once President Joe Biden removed the permit it needed to cross into the U.S. from Canada.  

The company hasn’t installed any Keystone XL pipe in South Dakota but it owns seven pump stations, three which are nearly complete, according to a recent filing with the Public Utilities Commission

TC Energy leases 10 pipe yards, seven contractor yards and at least two work camps. One of those pipe yards, near Philip, has hundreds of pipes on site.   

TC Energy also has a road bond and construction permit from the PUC that says it must reclaim the land and road it uses.  

“They’ll have to restore it back to as good or better quality than it was before they came,” said PUC Staff Attorney Kristen Edwards.  

  • TC Energy provided details of its plan in an August 14 document filed in Montana federal court:
  • TC Energy has transferred or is in the processes of transferring ownership of its unbuilt pump station sites to the original landowners.
  • It’s in the process of transferring ownership of its constructed pump stations sites to a company that specializes in demolition and salvage. The company will then dispose of the pump station infrastructure.
  • TC Energy has terminated its leases for pipe yards, workforce camps and contractor yards that aren’t holding any pipes.
  • It’s negotiating with a pipe broker company to acquire the pipes and leases of pipe yards, workforce camps and contractor yards with pipes. This company would sell the pipes and restore the land.
  • TC Energy has asked local, state and federal agencies to cancel various permits.

It will cost $84 million to decommission the pipeline on federal land alone, TC Energy estimated in 2019.  

Edwards says there is no deadline for TC Energy to leave South Dakota and the PUC will monitor the company during the reclamation period. The agency will then cancel the company’s road bond and public liaison.  

“Once they believe they have completed their duty to restore everything they’ll make a filing with us and commission staff will investigate that filing and call the counties and the townships and the (Department of Transportation) to make sure they’re also in agreement that everything’s been restored and the roads are all in good condition,” Edwards said.  

Landowners or counties with questions or concerns over the restoration process can contact Sarah Metcalf, public liaison officer, at or 800-332-1782. 

The PUC has no control over easements between TC Energy and private landowners. Those will need to be handled between the company and 314 landowners.