If a presidential permit becomes available for the Keystone XL pipeline after the next election, it has the go-ahead to pass through western South Dakota. The state Public Utilities Commission, on Tuesday, Jan. 5, accepted TransCanada's certification of its ability to meet conditions outlined in the original permit granted in 2010. Commission Chairman Chris Nelson explained his thought processes and the legal reasons for the validation.
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The PUC conducted hearings this summer and heard nine days of testimony and questions from proponents and opponents. On Tuesday, Jan. 5, PUC Chairman Chris Nelson said opponents' arguments strayed from the purpose of the hearings, to examine the 50 conditions TransCanada agreed to follow. He says he reviewed the transcript and found verification that commissioners tried to push opponents in the right direction, but they failed to follow through.
"Commissioner Hanson and I nearly begged the opponents, in your final briefs, identify for us specific conditions that could not be met. And frankly, as I read through those briefs, there's only one that I thought attempted to do that, and that was Gary Dorr," Nelson says. "He pointed to a specific condition and tried to make his case, that the company could not comply with that. Now at the end of the day, I think his argument fell short, but he tried."
Gary Dorr intervened as a tribal member who takes drinking water from the Missouri River and lives over the Ogallala Aquifer.
Interveners sought to quash the state permitting process after the Obama administration announced late last year that it would not allow the pipeline to cross the U.S.-Canada border.
But PUC commissioners say a new presidential administration in January 2017 might overrule that decision, and so South Dakota's permit is still relevant.
To read Debra White Plume's written comments to the PUC, click on this link and scroll down.