Gov. Noem's comment on Keystone XL Pipeline controversial

Published: May. 24, 2020 at 8:49 PM CDT
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"Well, I would just remind everybody that pipeline is not going to cross any tribal land or reservation areas," that was what South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said on Thursday in a press conference. Back in April, I have interviewed an attorney regarding Keystone XL Pipeline issues after one permit was cancelled by a judge. "TransCanada has now admitted that it will be crossing Rosebud lands that are held in trust," said Matthew Campbell, an attorney with Native American Rights Fund.

TransCanada, or TC Energy, is the corporation that is constructing the pipeline. In February, the energy company has confirmed the crossing into tribal properties, which was stated in the company's court filing, according to Native American Rights Fund.

"TC Energy has already admitted that, it's not in dispute anymore," Natalie Landreth, a Native American Rights Fund senior attorney says of Gov. Noem's comment. Landreth points out, there are actually a few other aspects that also show KXL Pipeline affecting tribal lands, such as the corridor of areas of potential effect also crosses tribal properties. Another aspect, Landreth says, is the water source for the tribe will also be impacted. "This pipeline goes straight through the Ogallala Aquifer and the Missouri River.... And the Tribe has not consented to none of these crossing." Landreth explains, the boundary of all lands owned or held in trust for Rosebud is set in 1889. "That's the boundary you look at... Not Todd County."

In addition to crossing the boundary of the tribal lands, Landreth says, protecting the water source is one of the main focal points. "One thing that's not discussed is that one third of all of the crops in the United States get their water from Ogallala Aquifer. It goes from Texas all the up to the Dakotas. And yet this tar-sand crude pipeline is going to go straight through it."

Landreth says, as much as the tribe is being affected, "It's really an issue of American water and American food."

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