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South Dakota Keystone XL Opponents Win Summer-Long Delay in Permit Process

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has granted a delay in TransCanada's permit hearing for the Keystone XL pipeline.
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The battle to keep the Keystone XL pipeline from being constructed continues, and opponents attempting to block the route through South Dakota won a victory before the state Public Utilities Commission on April 27, with a new ruling that puts off a key hearing until the end of the summer.

At issue is whether details of the application by TransCanada, would-be builder of the pipeline that would carry up to 800,000 barrels per day of bituminous crude from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to the Gulf Coast in Texas, have changed significantly enough to warrant a complete resubmission of the paperwork. 

RELATED: Yankton Sioux Lead Fight Against TransCanada and Keystone XL in South Dakota

In January, four tribes—the Yankton Sioux, Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Standing Rock—lost a bid to nix the permit when the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted that there was not enough of a case to do so. The commission’s ruling let stand a May 4–8 hearing that was scheduled. But the new ruling puts that hearing off until the end of the summer, citing a too-tight schedule that did not allow enough time for all parties to evaluate and study the available information.

RELATED: South Dakota Keeps Keystone XL Permit Process Intact for May Hearings

In April, the commission had granted extensions to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, agreeing with the tribe’s attorney that TransCanada “should have been more responsive” to his requests for information, the Rapid City Journal reported on April 1.

“For due process to be afforded to all parties, we felt that some additional time was necessary,” Public Utilities Commission Chairman Chris Nelson told the Associated Press.

Bold Nebraska, one of the intervenors along with the tribes, applauded the decision.

“Citizens and allied Tribal Nations worked to ensure more time was given to address the serious risks to water on the current route in South Dakota as well as the lack of proper spill response planning,” said Jane Kleeb, founder of the anti-Keystone XL group Bold Nebraska. “The South Dakota PUC listened to our concerns and the delay of the hearing is welcome news. TransCanada should take note, their pipeline is delayed for so long because it is risky and simply put will never be built. We remain united and urge the President to reject Keystone XL once and for all.”