South Dakota board sets hearing for Keystone XL pipeline water permits

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Water Management Board set dates Wednesday for water permits sought by the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline project and several landowners who want to host work camps.

Board members chose Friday, August 30, as the deadline for the different sides to submit lists of witnesses and exhibits.

Then, after maneuvering around schedules of some board members and some witnesses, the board settled on October 3-4 and October 29-31 for the hearing.

Lawyers and board members agreed testimony from some witnesses could be taken out of order.

Chairman Jim Hutmacher of Oacoma tried to find a schedule that accommodated all sides.

“We will be sending out rules ahead, of how we’re going to operate and what we expect,” Hutmacher told the group.

Proposed findings of fact are due November 14. The board intends to make its decision official during the December 4-5 meeting.

TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, wants to build a pipeline that would carry crude oil from Alberta through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pipeline.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has already granted a permit for construction of the 313-mile segment through parts of Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp counties. There also would be seven pump stations in South Dakota.

State Department of Environment and Natural Resources records show Keystone XL has applied for multiple diversion points:

Along the Cheyenne River about 36 miles south of Faith in Meade and Pennington counties;

Along the White River 14 miles south and six miles west of Presho in Lyman and Tripp counties; and

Along the Bad River approximately 2.5 miles east of Midland in Haakon County.

Several rural landowners also want the board to let them use water from their existing wells as backup sources for work camps they plan to host.

Elizabeth Lone Eagle of Bridger said Wednesday she thought an attorney for the project was trying to “lock” in what she could present. Lone Eagle said water rights, beneficial use and public interest were tied together.

“You’re not going to be locked in,” Hutmacher told her.

The board finished its scheduling work in less than one hour. That was followed by many people — all opponents — stepping to the witness table to each deliver a few minutes of public comments. A 2018 state law requires there be time for public comments allowed at most public meetings.

Most of the people in the room stood during two Lakota songs, but lawyers for the company and the landowners stayed in their chairs. That prompted a woman who had previously commented to go back to the witness table and criticize the attorneys — and at that point Hutmacher called for adjournment.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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