Keystone XL Pipeline

Victoria Wicks

One of the most dogged opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline is John Harter, a landowner near Colome in Tripp County. He fought in court to keep TransCanada from siting the pipeline across his land, and he lost. At the Public Utilities Commission hearing in Pierre, he is an intervener, and as such may ask questions of TransCanada’s witnesses. Although he has a quiet voice and slight stature, he holds his own in a room full of lawyers.

Victoria Wicks

A former TransCanada employee referred to as a whistle-blower took the stand this weekend at the Public Utilities Commission hearing in Pierre. The meeting started last Monday and continues this week. Evan Vokes testified on Saturday, and his testimony continues Monday or Tuesday, depending on scheduling of other witnesses.

Victoria Wicks

If the Keystone XL pipeline is allowed to be built through Western South Dakota, TransCanada will dig a trench more than 300 miles long. The construction project is planned to go through territory occupied by indigenous people for thousands of years before settlers first arrived. As such, a tribal historic preservation officer says all tribes should be consulted.

Victoria Wicks

At the Public Utilities Commission’s hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline, there are parties with attorneys, and there are parties without attorneys. The latter are the individual interveners who want to know what’s going on because their lives and their land could be affected by the pipeline, especially if something goes wrong. They have the right to cross examine TransCanada’s witnesses, and some of them are learning the frustration of trying to get an answer.

Victoria Wicks

Time set for the Keystone XL hearing in Pierre has been extended. The Public Utilities Commission had set the week of July 27 through Aug. 4, with a clear weekend. But today (Thursday), TransCanada’s witnesses are still on the stand, and interveners’ witnesses are still to come.

The delay comes largely because each TransCanada witness is subject to cross-examination by about a dozen interveners, one at a time. Questioning is detailed and lengthy, as are objections and discussions of the hearing’s format.

Victoria Wicks

When TransCanada was given authority to build the Keystone XL Pipeline through Western South Dakota ten years ago, the Public Utilities Commission issued 50 amended conditions with the permit. Those 50 conditions are at the heart of the Keystone XL Pipeline hearing held this week and next.

To read the 50 conditions, go to this link and scroll down to page 25.

https://puc.sd.gov/commission/orders/hydrocarbonpipeline/2010/hp09-001c.pdf

Victoria Wicks SDPB

After a year and a half of hearings, motions, and filings, the state Public Utilities Commission is taking testimony on whether to authorize TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline across South Dakota. Both opponents and proponents have been outlining their cases in the seven-day hearing before the PUC. 

Victoria Wicks

A witness called by TransCanada on Tuesday has been bumped to later in the week. Rick Perkins was called to provide rebuttal testimony to a witness for the Yankton Sioux Tribe, but that witness had not yet testified and therefore could not be rebutted.

Victoria Wicks

At the Keystone XL hearing in Pierre this week, Tuesday afternoon was filled with arguments among attorneys over whether certain testimony should be included. A witness for TransCanada was asked about shippers’ contracts, and rather than have those questions answered, TransCanada withdrew the testimony.

Victoria Wicks

The Keystone XL pipeline hearings in Pierre delve into details of the Keystone One pipeline already built on the eastern side of the state, and on assurances TransCanada has made for the proposed Western South Dakota route. A Keystone official has been on the stand since Monday afternoon, often deferring questions to other TransCanada witnesses still to come. Each witness is subject to cross-examination and re-cross by interveners and their attorneys, and by Public Utilities Commissioners and their staff.

Victoria Wicks

Parties in the Keystone XL pipeline hearings in Pierre made opening statements Monday afternoon. Both opponents and proponents outlined what case they’ll try to make during the seven-day hearing, held before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. SDPB’s Victoria Wicks is in Pierre covering the hearing held to determine if TransCanada can still meet the conditions set when the PUC gave the company its 2010 permit to build.

Photo courtesy of the Public Utilities Commission

Pipeline opponents raised objections to the absence of one Public Utilities Commissioner at a Keystone XL pipeline hearing that started Monday morning in Pierre.
Attorney Paul Blackburn, representing Bold Nebraska, says state law requires that absent commissioner Kristie Fiegen be replaced with a Governor’s appointee.
Fiegen has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer, a fact she has made public. She intends to review a complete transcript of the hearing or listen to audio of the entire hearing after she has recovered from treatment.

Victoria Wicks

After a year and a half of hearings, motions, and filings, the Public Utilities Commission is taking testimony on whether to authorize TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline across South Dakota. The commission started taking opening statements from opponents and proponents Monday morning. It’s been an emotionally charged issue on both sides.

Photo courtesy of the Public Utilities Commission

Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen won’t attend a seven-day hearing that starts Monday as part of the permitting process for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Fiegen announced publicly earlier this year that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

PUC Chairman Chris Nelson says Fiegen’s treatment during the time of the hearing won’t allow her to attend either in person or by phone. However, he says state law allows a board or commission member to participate in a hearing after the fact by reading a complete transcript or listening to a complete recording.

Victoria Wicks

On Monday evening, public utilities commissioners heard from more than 50 opponents and supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline. This gathering, held in advance of a longer hearing set for the end of the month, gave citizens an opportunity to offer up their opinions on the project even though they’re not official interveners. It also gave opponents an opportunity to address two topics that have been deemed irrelevant to the end-of-month hearing—climate change and tribal treaty rights.

The state Public Utilities Commission continues to hash out procedures leading up to a hearing this summer. The Keystone XL pipeline is on the docket at the end of July for an evidentiary hearing, but commissioners will continue to decide on rules governing the proceedings up until then.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

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.

Photo courtesy of the Public Utilities Commission

If  Tuesday’s Public Utilities Commission meeting is a sample of what’s to come, a four-day hearing next month promises to be exhausting and contentious. Commissioners heard hours of arguments from proponents and opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, laying the groundwork for the hearing set for May 5-8 in Pierre. SDPB’s Victoria Wicks reports on attempts by opponents to gain details of TransCanada’s plans, and the Canadian pipeline company’s attempts to protect that information.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

Keystone XL pipeline hearings before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission will go forward as scheduled in early May. Pipeline opponents asked the PUC Tuesday to delay hearings until after a presidential permit is granted or denied. But commissioners say they have an obligation to give TransCanada a timely hearing in South Dakota.

The United States Senate has failed to override the President’s veto of Keystone XL oil pipeline legislation. Wednesday afternoon, the number of lawmakers who voted to override the decision was 62. That’s not the two-thirds majority necessary for the measure to pass.

Last month President Barack Obama vetoed legislation authorizing construction on the Keystone XL pipeline, but the administration is still reviewing the pipeline proposal. Six years into consideration, United States Senators tried and failed to override the president’s veto of the nearly 1,200 miles of line.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

The Keystone XL Pipeline debate is a battle of contradictory facts. And it has polarized the nation in ways that no other pipeline project has. As it stands this week, President Barack Obama expects to receive a bill for his signature, passed by both chambers of Congress, authorizing TransCanada to build the pipeline across the U.S.-Canadian border. And Congress expects him to veto it, as he has said he will.

If built, the pipeline will cut diagonally across the western half of South Dakota.

As the Keystone XL pipeline project remains a hot topic in Washington D.C., South Dakota waits to see if the pipeline will eventually cut through the western side of the state. The debate focuses on advantages and drawbacks to the nation and the world. But SDPB’s Victoria Wicks reports there are considerations on a smaller scale, affecting taxes at the state and county level.

File photo by Victoria Wicks

On Monday Congress returns to Washington. At some point during the week the Congressional act authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline will hit President Barack Obama’s desk. He has vowed to veto the bill passed by the House and Senate. This issue has polarized the country politically in a way that hasn’t been attached to any other pipeline construction. SDPB’s Victoria Wicks takes a brief look at South Dakota’s history with this issue.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakotans are asking the state’s lone United States Congresswoman about national issues they see affecting South Dakota. Tuesday US Representative Kristi Noem held a town hall meeting in Sioux Falls. 

People meeting with Congresswoman Kristi Noem in Sioux Falls want to know how Washington, DC sees topics important to them. One of those is the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would run through western South Dakota. Both the Senate and the House passed a measure approving the pipeline. Noem says the decision now rests with President Barack Obama.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

The U.S Senate has approved a measure approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, but the project still faces a snag in South Dakota. TransCanada lost its certification for a building permit last year because it failed to complete the project within four years. Now it has to certify to the Public Utilities Commission that the project as it now stands meets the standards outlined in the permit issued in 2010. PUC’s staff attorney tells Victoria Wicks the Senate vote doesn’t change that.

SD "Last Battleground" On KXL

Jan 9, 2015

The Nebraska Supreme Court left in place a state law that gives the governor the power to approve Keystone XL pipeline.

You can hear the story by clicking play below.

An evidentiary hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline will go forward in May. Public Utilities Commissioners heard arguments Tuesday from pipeline opponents who say because TransCanada’s project has changed, it has to go back to the permitting process. But a lawyer for TransCanada says that’s not what South Dakota legislators intended when they wrote the laws governing permits.

File photo by Victoria Wicks

TransCanada’s Keystone X-L Pipeline project is on the PUC agenda again this week. TransCanada has applied for recertification of its permit to build the pipeline through South Dakota. Opponents say the project has changed enough that the company should have to apply for a new permit. On Tuesday Public Utilities Commissioners will hear those arguments.

wikipedia.org

The U.S. Senate was one vote short on Tuesday of passing a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would cut through South Dakota. Republican Senator John Thune voted for the bill and retiring Democratic Senator Tim Johnson voted against it.

Jonathan Ellis, reporter and columnist for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, and Jon Hunter, publisher of the Madison Daily Leader, joined the Dakota Political Junkies and discussed the vote. They also talked about the possibility of John Thune running for president in 2016 and the new state legislative leaders.

KXL Fails To Pass U.S. Senate

Nov 18, 2014

The U.S. Senate has refused a bill that would send approval of the Keystone Pipeline project to the president’s desk.

Those opposing the Keystone pipeline are claiming a small victory.   Keith Fielder is one of the occupiers at the "Spirit Camp" on the pipeline route near the Rosebud Reservation.   He says the short term construction jobs aren’t worth the long term threat to the water supply from an oil spill.

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