Keystone XL pipeline permit deadline expires

Farm Forum

PIERRE — A Canadian company that has been waiting for years to pipe more tar-sands oil from Alberta through the Great Plains states presented documents Monday to revive the project’s construction permit in South Dakota.

TransCanada Keystone originally asked for the permit in 2009 from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. The PUC granted the permit June 29, 2010.

Because TransCanada Keystone didn’t begin construction within the required four years, the company must take another step. It needs to certify to the PUC that the conditions in the permit will still be met.

TransCanada’s vice president for the project, Corey Goulet of Calgary, Alberta, signed an affidavit Friday swearing that the company has met the conditions so far and will comply with all of them during construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline. The PUC received the certification documents Monday.

The commission’s three elected commissioners and staff will review the certification filing and the permit conditions, according to Patty Van Gerpen, the PUC’s executive director.

It is the first time certification became necessary on a pipeline project in South Dakota, she said.

The commission will decide at future public meeting how to proceed, including participation by interveners and accepting public comments.

“Our plan is to open a docket related to the prior (one),” Van Gerpen said.

Dakota Rural Action has been the leading opponent to the project in South Dakota.

The project, known as the Keystone XL pipeline, remains stalled at the federal level. The U.S. State Department under President Barack Obama hasn’t granted permission for the pipeline to pierce the U.S.-Canada border.

The South Dakota segment would cover 313 miles, crossing from Montana into South Dakota at the northwest corner and continuing through nine counties on a southeast path into Nebraska. There would be seven pumping stations along the South Dakota segment in Harding, Meade, Haakon, Jones and Tripp counties. The route also would cross portions of Butte, Perkins, Pennington and Lyman counties.

The plan calls for Keystone XL to connect with other pipelines at a junction at Steele City, Neb.

Opponents don’t want more oil mined from tar sands in Alberta because they contend it will be a source of pollution. They claim the pipeline is intended to promote sales to China rather than supply U.S. refineries.

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