Army Corp of Engineers host Keystone XL Pipeline hearings
The hearing’s continue through October 1st, with concerned citizens able to submit written testimony through early October as well.
PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA) - The Keystone Pipeline system has been a source of contentious national debate for more than a decade.
That debate has spilled over into this week, as the United States Army Corp of Engineers has been hosting a series of virtual public hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline this week.
The hearings are intended for people in Nebraska, Montana, and South Dakota, all states where the XL pipeline would pass through.
Yesterday evening, the Corp hosted South Dakota’s virtual hearing, but the event saw feedback from people across the country, to include Oregon, Indiana and Montana.
Gary Salsman, Director of Growth and Development for TransCanada, the company responsible for the building of the Keystone Pipeline system, spoke to what he though had already been a complex and arduous review process throughout the last decade.
“Our pipeline will ensure we deliver a critical supply of the energy we need everyday by the safest method possible, with minimal impacts to the environment. Significantly reducing transport by railcar, and truck transport from Canada, as well as large tanker shipments from the middle east and Venezuela.” Salsman said.
However, concerned citizens questioned the review process the pipeline had been through, and the pipeline overall.
“My son does have a stake in the quality of life here in South Dakota, and my granddaughter has a massive stake in the quality of life on the planet. It would be my contention that the pipeline threatens both of them to some degree.” said Jeff Smith of South Dakota.
“Pipeline crossings will cause many negative impacts. Both immediately and cumulatively with such things as aquatic resources, conservation, economic synthetics, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife, flood hazard, land use, navigation, shore line erosion, recreation, water supply water quality, energy, food production, and the general needs and welfare of the people.” said Richard Bell, also of South Dakota.
Congressman Dusty Johnson (R- South Dakota) spoke to concerns he had about the ability of the government to build large construction projects in the United States in general. Johnson brought up the hearings he went through during his time on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission from 2004 to 2011.
“I think we want to be a country where we are in a position to do large infrastructure projects. It keeps getting harder and harder for us to do that. Could we build the interstate highway system today? I kind of doubt it. Could we build the Missouri River Dam system today? I kind of doubt it. That is a problem. I haven’t served on the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in a decade. Back when I was on the PUC, we spent a year analyzing the information on the Keystone XL pipeline, we went through an evidentiary hearing, and we voted unanimously to let them construct. The fact that we are a decade later and that still hasn’t been done, tells all of us how difficult is to be a country where big things can get completed.” Johnson said.
Joye Braun, a Community Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, said that long wait for the Keystone XL pipeline had been because of the work by activists like herself.
“(Pipelines) are not good for South Dakota, they are not good for the environment, they are not good for tribal relations, certainly not good for tribal relations.” Braun said.
Those interested in providing feedback on the Keystone XL pipeline project can still do so on October 1st, from 4 PM to 8 PM CST. Otherwise, the Corp of Engineer’s intends to accept written testimony through early October.