Pierre, SD – Tribal members and leaders, farmers, landowners, concerned citizens, as well as a cadre of attorneys, are all headed to Pierre, South Dakota next Tuesday to challenge TransCanada’s attempts to block full disclosure of the facts surrounding the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline recertification. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SD PUC) granted TransCanada a permit in 2010, but the company is required to obtain recertification of its permit because it did not commence construction within four years of the permit being issued.
The hearing before the SD PUC is set for 9:30 a.m., Dec., 9th, 2014 at the Capitol in Pierre, SD on TransCanada Keystone’s motion on how much information may be sought by the more than 40 Intervening Parties on recertification of the controversial pipeline. TransCanada filed its motion on October 30, 2014 after unsuccessfully attempting to keep environmental, Indigenous nonprofits and interested parties from intervening in the SD PUC proceedings.
“In another blatant attack on public involvement and accurate information in the SD PUC permitting process, TransCanada has proven true to its own record of circumventing public input, landowners’ rights and the rights of tribal nations in its path with an attempt to limit discovery. We hope the South Dakota PUC Commissioners will let the voices of rural and tribal people be heard in this process instead of once again, being drowned out by a greedy self-interested multinational corporations and their endless cadre of lawyers and legal maneuvering. What do they have to hide?” asked Chas Jewett, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and an individual intervening party in the SD PUC proceedings.
The NO KXL DAKOTA coalition was recently organized to present a unified voice of both Indians and non-Indians concerned about the potentially devastating effects of the Keystone XL pipeline. The coalition has many concerns about the pipeline that they will be insisting the SD PUC consider in fully vetting the pipeline’s potential impacts on the people, lands and waters of South Dakota and the Tribes.
“An energy independent country does not seek independence at all cost to those on the pipeline corridor. There exists a human right to live safely in our aboriginal, treaty and unceded territories,” said Faith Spotted Eagle, one of the organizers behind NO KXL DAKOTA coalition and Chair of the Ihanktonwan Treaty Council.
Among these growing concerns, after other recent pipeline spills in Montana and Minnesota, are the likelihood of contamination the pipeline poses for the Oglala Aquifer, an important and sole source of drinking water for many Tribal and non-Indian communities. TransCanada also seeks to have the pipeline constructed across permeable soils in the environmentally sensitive Sandhills – an area that risks being irreparably damaged by a pipeline spill. Tribal people have particular concerns about cultural resources and sacred sites that were not taken into account when the pipeline was originally permitted in 2010. The State of South Dakota was not aware of these Tribal concerns during the initial permitting process because Tribes were not and never have been properly and meaningfully consulted during any of the SD PUC proceedings. Finally, in the four years since the original permit proceedings, the need to address climate change and the negative effects of oil extracted from Canadian tar sands may have on that has become critical.
“As a person with serious long-term health issues, I am very concerned about the potential for groundwater contamination if the KXL pipeline is built. South Dakota has scarce water resources, and it is essential to conserve clean water supplies for personal consumption, and also for our state’s number one industry – agriculture,” said Gena Parkhurst, a concerned homeowner of Rapid City, SD, who has also filed to intervene in the SD PUC proceedings.
“TransCanada wants to limit the discussion on what matters to the health and future of South Dakota. They want to limit the right to due process. They want to dismiss the rights of Mother Earth and our duty as human beings to ensure her protection. Therefore, we are united as Native people, as non-native people, as the NO KXL DAKOTA coalition, to see those destructive wants become TransCanada’s unaccomplished dreams,” stated Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, another intervenor and organizer behind NO KXL DAKOTA and Oceti Rising, an organization dedicated to building awareness and capacity with the Oceti Sakowin or Seven Council Fires of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations and other Tribes along the pipeline route.
To view the entire docket proceedings and filings including a copy of TransCanada’s Motion, go to the SD PUC website at http://www.puc.sd.gov/Dockets/HydrocarbonPipeline/keystoneupdate.aspx