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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
CONTACT: Leah Mohr, communications manager, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201
S.D. PUC approves permit for TransCanada Keystone Pipeline
PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday voted to approve with conditions a siting permit for the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline project in South Dakota. All three commissioners voted in favor of granting the permit, based on 57 conditions. The ruling took place at a commission meeting in Pierre, March 11, 2008.
Prior to the vote, PUC Chairman Gary Hanson read a list of conditions which the commissioners discussed. The conditions were categorized in seven areas: compliance with laws, regulations, permits, standards and commitments; reporting and relationships; construction; pipeline operations; detection and emergency response; environmental; and liability for damage.
The commissioners pointed to several key points among the dozens of conditions with which Keystone must comply, including:
providing a public liaison officer to work with landowners and the PUC to share information and resolve complaints. The company will also maintain a Web site with information about the planning, construction and operation of the project.
submitting quarterly status reports to the PUC until the project is operational.
- filing an integrity management plan and an emergency response plan with the PUC.
- compensating landowners for damages as a result of pipeline construction or operation.
- replacing any polyethylene water pipe located within 500 feet of the project.
- honoring all commitments the company made during the application process, including those described in its application and during testimony at the formal hearing.
- filing with the PUC a $3 million bond in 2008 and a $12 million bond in 2009 to provide for compensation for any beyond-normal damage to public roads.
Hanson emphasized the priority placed on protecting South Dakota resources. "Our water, air and soils are not replaceable assets," he said. "Our natural environment must not be unnecessarily disturbed; it must be selfishly protected."
In describing the 11-month process that led to the ruling, Hanson recognized the diligence of all those involved including PUC staff, the applicant, interveners and affected landowners. He also declared that, "it is doubly essential to get this done right because of the precedent it will set for future pipelines."
PUC Vice Chairman Steve Kolbeck acknowledged the ability of South Dakotans to participate in the docket. "The PUC made extraordinary steps to keep the process open," he stated. "I understand the love of the land and I understand the fear some landowners felt. I do feel comfortable the conditions we placed on the permit consider those aspects," he said.
"This was a long process for a reason. There were a tremendous number of questions that we needed to get answered, and the 57 conditions we attached really came out of that process," said Commissioner Dusty Johnson after the decision. "Those conditions mean that TransCanada didn't get the pipeline that they proposed. Instead, they got the pipeline that we were comfortable with," he concluded.
On April 27, 2007, TransCanada filed a siting permit application for the South Dakota portion of the Keystone Pipeline. The PUC held public input meetings about the Keystone project in June 2007 in Yankton, Alexandria, Clark and Britton and in December 2007 in Pierre. A seven-day formal hearing was held in Pierre in December 2007, at which the commissioners heard testimony from the applicant, PUC staff, interveners and their respective experts. The parties filed more than 190 exhibits during the hearing. The entire docket encompassed more than 120,000 pages of testimony and comment.
Listen to an audio Web cast archive of the commission's decision. Go to www.puc.sd.gov, click on "Commission Actions" near the top of the page. Select Commission Meeting Archives 2008 then "March 11, 2008 Commission Meeting, HP 07-001 TransCanada Keystone Pipeline."
- Listen to a recording of a media briefing held by the commissioners after the decision. Follow the links described above and click on "March 11, 2008 Commission Meeting, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline decision, media briefing."
- A document containing the 57 conditions is available on the PUC Web site. Go to the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline docket and scroll to the bottom of the page to the link labeled "03/11/08 - Permit Conditions Approved by the Commission."