PUC Won’t Toss Keystone Application

State regulators dismissed a request last Tuesday to throw out an application for the South Dakota portion of Keystone XL pipeline. This sets up a decision as early as next month from the Public Utilities Commission on whether to re-approve the project.

Pipeline opponents argued before the PUC that President Barack Obama killed the project in November, which should put an end to the proceedings in South Dakota. But an attorney for TransCanada, the company behind the proposed pipeline, said the company remains committed to the project.

TransCanada’s proposed pipeline would go from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

The project has prompted opposition from American Indian tribes, some landowners and environmental groups that were concerned that the pipeline would contaminate water supplies and contribute to pollution.

Supporters argue the pipeline would be a boon for the county and will create construction jobs and boost tax collections in South Dakota.
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling has said the company still wants to build the pipeline, attorney William Taylor said.

“The project has not been abandoned,” Taylor said. “TransCanada has not said this party is over. Rather, TransCanada has said the company is absolutely committed to the project.”

The state initially authorized TransCanada’s project in 2010, but permits must be revisited if construction doesn’t start within four years.

The commission is now considering the company’s guarantee that it can complete the project while meeting the conditions of the 2010 approval.

After dismissing opponents requests to block re-approval and revoke the underlying construction permit, commission chairman Chris Nelson said the panel could decide on the project at the January meeting.

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