Dakota Access oil pipeline hearings slated for 2015

Farm Forum

PIERRE — The state Public Utilities Commission will have meetings in four South Dakota communities next month regarding a proposed crude oil pipeline.

A company called Dakota Access, based in Houston, applied last week to the PUC for a permit to build and operate the 271.6-mile segment through eastern South Dakota.

The pipeline would carry oil from the Bakken and Three Forks formations in northwestern North Dakota to Patoka, Ill.

The South Dakota portion of the proposed route would run through Campbell, McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk, Spink, Beadle, Kingsbury, Miner, Lake, McCook, Minnehaha, Turner and Lincoln counties.

One pumping station would be in South Dakota, approximately 7 miles south of Redfield.

Copies of the company’s permit application are available at the countyauditor’s office in each of the 13 counties’ courthouses. A copy also is available at the PUC office in the state Capitol in Pierre.

The PUC plans meetings on Jan. 21 in Bowdle at the school gymnasium from noon to 3 p.m. and in Redfield at the school auditorium from 6 to 9 p.m.

Two more PUC meetings would be held Jan. 22 in Iroquois at the school gymnasium from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and in Sioux Falls at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center’s Roosevelt room from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The purpose of the PUC meetings is to allow company officials to present an overview of their plan and to receive public comments, opinions and questions from the public.

Residents and organizations that want to formally intervene in the case must make applications to the commission no later than Feb. 13.

Participating as an intervener is similar to being a party in a court proceeding. A lawyer isn’t required, but knowledge of courtroom process, including evidence and examination of witnesses, can be helpful.

People with Internet access can view the entire PUC docket in the matter at

Written comments will be accepted and publicly filed at any time as the case proceeds, a PUC spokeswoman said on Dec. 18.

An evidentiary hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet, according to Leah Mohr, the commission’s deputy executive director.

South Dakota law gives the commission one year from the date of the permit application filing to reach a decision, she said. That deadline would be Dec. 15, 2015.

The commission considered and approved permits for two other crude oil pipelines in the past decade. Both applications came from TransCanada to carry tar-sands oil from Alberta through South Dakota.

The first TransCanada pipeline was built down the James River Valley from North Dakota to Nebraska.

The second, called Keystone XL, hasn’t received approval yet from President Barack Obama’s administration to pierce the Canada-U.S. border. TransCanada currently is seeking to certify to the PUC that the project continues to meet all the conditions set in the state permit.

The proposed Dakota Access pipeline would carry 450,000 barrels per day and could handle up to 570,000, according to the company’s application.

The estimated total cost is $3.8 billion, with the South Dakota segment costing $820 million.

The company wants to start construction in 2015 once state, federal and local permits have been obtained. The timetable calls for commissioning the pipeline in August 2016 with service starting October 2016.

The company plans to hire 12 full-time, permanent employees in South Dakota. During the peak of construction in 2016, the company expects two spreads of 724 workers apiece.

During construction, the company and workers will pay approximately $36 million in various state taxes and approximately $3 million in local taxes, according to the application. It says the first full year of operation will generate about $14 million in property taxes to local governments.

A map of the route is available from the PUC docket at

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