The Keystone XL oil pipeline continues to be a source of debate among leaders at the national and state levels, and over the next month South Dakota will become part of the discussion again.
Originally proposed in March of 2009, the Keystone XL pipeline would pass through nine western South Dakota counties before heading down to Nebraska to connect with an already existing pipeline. A state permit allowing the construction of the project expired at the end of June this year, and now the company behind the pipeline wants the impacted areas re-certified by the end of this month.
Keystone Project's president Corey Goulet says the conditions for construction of that portion of the pipeline haven't changed since the permits were issued four years ago -- so the state's Public Utilities Commission should be able to re-certify it.
Before the permits expired in June, PUC chariman Gary Hanson told KELOLAND News that he didn't think the re-certification process would take that long because the rules TransCanada would need to follow during the construction process are already in place. Hanson also said that while he voted for the pipeline four years ago, he will need to look at the evidence again before voting to approve the new permits.
Goulet says the project would generate $20,000,000 in taxes for the counties that will carry the pipeline, but those opposed to the project say that the pipeline could have a negative environmental impact to sensitive underground water supplies.
In a statement to KELOLAND News in June, TransCanada officials told us that they also believe re-certification would be a quick process. It is still unclear if the Public Utilities Commission intends to re-certify the project in the company's requested timeline.