Keystone XL Pipeline

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.

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.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

The Keystone XL pipeline has another hurdle to jump in South Dakota. TransCanada failed to start construction within four years of receiving a site permit from the Public Utilities Commission, so now it has to prove it still meets conditions. People and groups from South Dakota and elsewhere are lining up to oppose the certification of the permit.
Tuesday, at a PUC meeting, the commissioners heard a debate on who should be accepted as an intervening party.

KXL Decision Pending

Sep 22, 2014

You can join the live town hall at 7:00pm central 6:00 pm mountain here.

A decision from the Whitehouse on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is expected in November.

The pipeline proposes to bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada across the Dakotas and to refineries in the Southern United States.

The Nebraska Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Friday on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Three landowners are suing to block the project. They say TransCanda bypassed proper permitting agencies. Officials with the Keystone project say they plan to re-certify the project in South Dakota while they await court rulings and federal permitting.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Candidates in two high-profile South Dakota elections are meeting this summer to debate issues important to voters. Friday the South Dakota Farmers Union hosted the most recent discussions among candidates for governor and US Senate. Both debates generated ideas about energy in South Dakota.

A member of the debate audience at the State Fair in Huron wants to know whether U-S Senate candidates support building the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed route runs through western South Dakota, and the pipe would carry crude oil from Canada to Texas refineries.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

During their first debate, candidates for South Dakota’s only seat in the US House of Representatives clash over the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline and the Affordable Care Act. They answer audience questions for an hour Tuesday at Dakota Fest in Mitchell.

The Keystone XL pipeline was not built within four years of its South Dakota siting permit, so now TransCanada has to certify that the project still meets all conditions. The state’s Public Utilities Commission issued a permit for the pipeline on June 29, 2010. But the PUC chairman tells SDPB’s Victoria Wicks that right now, all eyes are on Nebraska.

Several weeks ago, President Obama put an indefinite delay on a decision for the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline. The Senate is planning a vote to move forward with the project without presidential approval.

Cindy Schild with the American Petroleum Institute says the delay by the president is a mid-year election tactic designed to aid Democrats in November. Schild refutes one argument against the pipeline, some say the oil pulled out of Alberta sand fields is of poor quality and shouldn’t enter the US.

Tribes Rally D.C. On KXL

Apr 24, 2014

Tribal leaders and state residents from across South Dakota spent part of this week in Washington D.C. rallying and lobbying against the Keystone pipeline.

Representatives from each tribe in the state took part in an Earth Day protest against the proposed project.

While opponents remain adamantly against the pipeline–company officials point out that the project is not crossing reservation land and that many rural landowners are in favor of the proposal.


Keystone Opponents Rally Lower Brule

Mar 27, 2014
Charles Michael Ray

A gathering of those opposed to the Keystone pipeline is taking place in Lower Brule this coming Sunday.   Opponents claim the proposed pipeline harms the environment and violates treaty rights.    But company officials backing the project say they want to work with tribes and find solutions to any concerns.


Dakota Political Junkies

Feb 26, 2014

Joining the program are Kevin Woster, Rapid City reporter for KELO-TV, and Seth Tupper, editor of the Mitchell Daily Republic. Topics included easing restrictions on hemp production, Common Core standards, Medicaid expansion and the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Crew Camp Proposed In Harding County

Nov 22, 2013

The population of western South Dakota's Harding County might see significant increases in the future. A crew camp to house oil field workers is being proposed west of Buffalo. The suggested camp comes in preparation for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is still pending federal approval. But not everyone is on board for the presence of a crew camp or the pipeline.

Victoria Wicks

A U.S. State Department consultation with tribes over the Keystone XL pipeline was shut down Thursday in Rapid City by tribal leaders. Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Nez Perce, Ponca, and Pawnee leaders joined together in walking out of the consultation after they discovered they were meeting with two people they later referred to as “low level clerks.”

Arkansas Oil Spill Raises Concerns Over Keystone XL

Apr 1, 2013

An oil pipeline spill that flooded tar sands crude oil into an Arkansas suburb over the weekend has raised concerns about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline planned to cross South Dakota.

The Arkansas spill was along an Exon pipeline –it’s separate from the TransCanada company pushing for the Keystone expansion–but some South Dakota landowners say the threat of an environmental disaster is real.

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray has this story.