U.S. judge halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

A federal judge in Montana halted construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Thursday on the grounds that the U.S. government did not complete a full analysis of the environmental impact of the TransCanada Corp project.

The ruling deals a major setback for TransCanada Corp and could possibly delay the construction of the $8 billion, 1,180 mile (1,900 km) pipeline.

The ruling is a victory for environmentalists, tribal groups and ranchers who have spent more than a decade fighting against construction of the pipeline that will carry heavy crude to Steele City, Nebraska, from Canada’s oilsands in Alberta.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris’ ruling late on Thursday came in a lawsuit that several environmental groups filed against the U.S. government in 2017, soon after President Donald Trump announced a presidential permit for the project.

Morris wrote in his ruling that a U.S. State Department environmental analysis “fell short of a ‘hard look’” at the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions and the impact on Native American land resources.

He also ruled the analysis failed to fully review the effects of the current oil price on the pipeline’s viability and did not fully model potential oil spills and offer mitigations measures.

In Thursday’s ruling, Morris ordered the government to issue a more thorough environmental analysis before the project can move forward.

“The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities,” said the Sierra Club, one of the environmental groups involved in the lawsuit.

Trump supported building the pipeline, which was rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015 on environmental concerns relating to emissions that cause climate change.

Trump, a Republican, said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.



TransCanada to move materials, prep sites for Keystone XL

TransCanada stockpiling pipe south of Shaunavon for the Keystone XL pipeline, July 8, 2011. Photo By BRIAN ZINCHUK

PIERRE (AP) — The Keystone XL oil pipeline developer said in a letter this week to a Native American tribal chairman that the company will start moving materials and preparing construction sites for the project in Montana and South Dakota.

TransCanada Corp. said in the letter to Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier, of South Dakota, that the work would start in July and go through the fall. The chairman on Thursday tweeted copies of TransCanada’s message and his response on the tribe’s letterhead: “We will be waiting.”

Frazier wasn’t immediately available on Friday to comment to The Associated Press. Keystone XL faces intense resistance from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some landowners along the route.

The project would cost an estimated $8 billion. The 1,179-mile pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with lines to carry oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said in an email that the preparatory work will ramp up over the year to position TransCanada for construction in 2019. He said it would include moving pipe and equipment to start clearing activities to prepare for getting final permits and approvals for construction.

But the project faces legal hurdles. Nebraska landowners have filed a lawsuit challenging the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s decision to approve a route through the state.

A separate federal lawsuit brought by Montana landowners and environmental groups seeks to overturn President Donald Trump’s decision to grant a presidential permit for the project, which was necessary because it would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

South Dakota’s Supreme Court in June dismissed an appeal from pipeline opponents — including the Cheyenne River Sioux — of a judge’s decision last year upholding regulators’ approval for the pipeline to cross the state.

By Associated Press


Nebraska Commission Approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline

Nebraska approves alternative route for Keystone XL 

TransCanada Corp. now has the approvals it needs to build its Keystone XL pipeline.

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission has approved the passage of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline through the state in a 3 to 2 vote.

TransCanada won approval Monday, marking the last major hurdle for one of the most controversial pipelines projects of all time.

But the five-member commission rejected TransCanada’s preferred route and voted to approve an alternative route that would move the pipeline further east.

Source: Nebraska Public Service Commission

In a statement, TransCanada said it would take time to study the decision’s impact on costs and timing of the project.

Nebraska was the last state to formally approve the pipeline, which also has federal clearance after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order approving it earlier this year.

It is unclear whether the federal approval for the KXL project covers the route approved by the state commission.

The approval comes just days after a massive 210,000-gallon oil spill by the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota.


The commission’s decision focused narrowly on whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the public interest, not environmental issues, which it is not allowed to consider.

The commission’s approval of the Keystone XL is likely to be challenged in court by opponents who say the project is an environmental risk.

Opposition to the line in Nebraska has been driven mainly by a group of around 90 landowners whose farms lie along the proposed route. They have said they are worried spills could pollute water critical for grazing cattle, and that tax revenue will be short-lived and jobs will be temporary.

Environmentalists opposed to Keystone XL vowed “the fight’s not over yet” for the project and indicated their willingness to pressure banks to withhold funding for the project.

Keystone Pipeline Shut Down after Leak Spills 210K Gallons of Oil In South Dakota

FILE: TransCanada workers excavating a section of the Keystone oil pipeline near Freeman after oil was discovered above ground. Apr, 2016.

Keystone pipeline shut down after oil spill in Marshall County

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline has leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in northeastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators reported Thursday.

TransCanada said in a statement crews shut down the Keystone pipeline at approximately 6 a.m. Thursday and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from a leak south of the Ludden pump station in Marshall County.

According to TransCanada, the spill was completely isolated within 15 minutes. The cause is being investigated.

Brian Walsh with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said he anticipates the clean up will take some time.

Walsh said the leak happened in a rural area about three miles from the town of Amherst.

This is the largest Keystone oil spill to date in South Dakota.

Back in April 2016, crews responded to a 16,800 gallons spill from the Keystone pipeline in Freeman, South Dakota.

David Flute, chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe, told BuzzFeed News Thursday’s leak was on a section of pipeline adjacent to his reservation. He said the area has “the cleanest lakes in South Dakota,” as well as a large subterranean aquifer, and that he was “concerned” about the possibility of contamination.

“I’m thinking there is going to be an impact, some type of environmental impact,” Flute said. “As the oil seeps, if they can’t contain the spill, which I’m hoping they do, if they’re unable to contain it from seeping into the water systems, it can be hurtful and harmful to everybody.”

In response to the spill, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director Kelly Martin released the following statement:

“We’ve always said it’s not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and today TransCanada is making our case for us. This is not the first time TransCanada’s pipeline has spilled toxic tar sands, and it won’t be the last. The PSC must take note: there is no such thing as a safe tar sands pipeline, and the only way to protect Nebraska communities from more tar sands spills is to say no to Keystone XL.”

There have been no reports of the oil entering any waterways or water systems at this time.

Trump Greenlights Keystone XL Pipeline From Canada, But Obstacles Could Delay Project

US President Donald Trump has approved a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, clearing the way for the $8 billion project. Photo: AP

Reuters | March 25, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s administration approved TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, cheering the oil industry and angering environmentalists even as further hurdles for the controversial project loom.

The approval reverses a decision by former President Barack Obama to reject the project, but the company still needs to win financing, acquire local permits, and fend off likely legal challenges for the pipeline to be built.

“TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long-overdue project with efficiency and with speed,” Trump said in the Oval Office before turning to ask TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russell Girling when construction would start.

“We’ve got some work to do in Nebraska to get our permits there,” Girling replied.

“Nebraska?” Trump said. “I’ll call Nebraska.”

Trump announced the presidential permit for Keystone XL at the White House with Girling and Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, standing nearby. He said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce US dependence on foreign oil.

The pipeline linking Canadian oil sands to US refiners had been blocked by Obama, who said it would do nothing to reduce fuel prices for US motorists and would contribute to emissions linked to global warming.

Trump, however, campaigned on a promise to approve it, and he signed an executive order soon after taking office in January to advance the project.

TransCanada’s US-listed shares dipped 5 cents to close at $46.21 on Friday.

Trump has claimed the project would create 28,000 jobs in the United States. But a 2014 State Department study predicted just 3,900 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs.

The president said he would get in touch with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts later in the day.

TransCanada applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission in February for approval of the pipeline’s route through the state. The company said it expects that process to conclude this year.

Ricketts said in a statement posted on Twitter that the project would help his state.

“I have full confidence that the Public Service Commission will conduct a thorough and fair review of the application,” he said.

The White House has said the pipeline is exempt from a Trump executive order requiring new pipelines to be made from US steel, because much of the pipe for the project has already been built and stockpiled.

Environmental groups vowed to fight it.

Greenpeace said it would pressure banks to withhold financing for the multibillion-dollar project, and others said they would fight the pipeline in court.

“We’ll use every tool in the kit,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defence Council.

Since Obama had nixed the pipeline based on an environmental assessment commissioned by the State Department in early 2014, opponents will likely argue in court that Trump cannot reverse the decision without conducting a new assessment.

Fred Jauss, partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney and a former attorney with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said local permitting would also be a challenge.

“The Presidential Permit is only one part of a web of federal, state, and local permits that must be obtained prior to starting construction,” he said.

“Other federal agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, state regulatory commissions, and even local planning boards may have requirements that need to be fulfilled by Keystone prior to construction.”

“In addition, TransCanada may still need to reach deals with hundreds of potentially affected landowners on the pipeline’s route. There is a lot of work ahead for TransCanada.”

The Keystone Steele City pumping station, into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect to, is seen in Steele City, Nebraska. Photo: AP

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring more than 800,000 barrels per day of heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta into Nebraska, linking to an existing pipeline network feeding U.S. refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico.

The project could be a boon for Canada, which has struggled to bring its vast oil reserves to market.

“Our government has always been supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline and we are pleased with the US decision,” said a spokesman for Canada’s minister of natural resources. “The importance of a common, continental energy market cannot be overstated.”

The president of the American Petroleum Institute, Jack Gerard, said the approval was “welcome news” and would bolster US energy security.

Expedited approval of projects is part of Trump’s approach to a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure package he promised on the campaign trail. The White House is looking for ways to speed up approvals and permits for other infrastructure projects, which can sometimes take years to go through a regulatory maze.

TransCanada tried for more than five years to build the 1,897-km pipeline, until Obama rejected it in 2015. The company resubmitted its application for the project in January, after Trump signed the executive order smoothing its path.



Dakota Access Pipeline Construction To Continue Despite Protests

Law enforcement officers, left, drag a person from a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in rural Morton County, N.D., on Oct. 10, 2016. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

Law enforcement officers, left, drag a person from a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in rural Morton County, N.D., on Oct. 10, 2016. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

Bloomberg News | Oct. 12, 2016

Energy Transfer Partners LP is moving forward with construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, rejecting the Obama administration’s request that it voluntarily halt some work on the $3.8-billion (U.S.) project.

“Dakota Access looks forward to a prompt resumption of construction activities” the company said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday after an appeals court decision cleared the way for construction to continue on one segment of the project that had been blocked by a legal challenge. While work can continue on a stretch of private land near Lake Oahe in North and South Dakota, construction remains suspended by federal order on another segment, preventing completion of the project.

The company’s decision to resume work comes after several protesters were arrested trying to halt construction at the project earlier this week, and amid a broader effort Tuesday to shut down other pipelines bringing crude from Canada.

Securing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ authorization is the last hurdle for the 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometre) pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois, which is almost 60 per cent complete. Critics of the project are pressing ahead with protests despite the recent legal setback.

“This fight is far from over,” said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a statement after the appeals court order.

At the centre of the controversy is the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has said construction along one section would damage sites it considers culturally significant and pose an environmental hazard where the pipeline crosses the river. Industry groups maintain that Energy Transfer has correctly followed the permitting process, and that the Obama administration’s last-minute interference is an unprecedented action that will affect other infrastructure projects.

Energy Transfer said it expects the federal government to eventually grant the permission it needs to proceed with construction crossing beneath the Missouri River. The pipeline was scheduled to be in service by the end of the year, and the company hasn’t said publicly that it expects that deadline to be delayed. Last month, chief executive officer Kelcy Warren said Energy Transfer would take its battle to Washington where it would meet with officials “to understand their position.”

Last month, a Justice Department attorney said the federal review of Dakota Access will likely be completed in weeks, not months. The Obama administration also began a series of consultations on Tuesday to consider whether nationwide reform is needed for the tribal consultation process on such projects.

Meanwhile, high-profile opposition to the pipeline continues. Neil Young lined the stage with Standing Rock tribal flags at a concert in California on Saturday. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department in North Dakota said 27 people, including actress Shailene Woodley, were arrested on Monday during protests.

Shailene Woodley arrested at pipeline protest in North Dakota (Reuters)

Shailene Woodley arrested at pipeline protest in North Dakota

Enbridge Inc., Spectra Energy Corp., TransCanada Corp. and Kinder Morgan Inc. shut all or parts of pipelines able to bring more than 2 million barrels a day from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest. All of the lines were back in service by late Tuesday.

Enbridge shut lines 4 and 67 as a precaution after activists attempted to stop the oil flow on a Minnesota pipeline, company spokesman Graham White said in an e-mail. The two lines were back in service late Tuesday, Enbridge said. TransCanada Corp. said it shut the Keystone pipeline as a precaution, but also resumed service late Tuesday.

Spectra shut the Montana section of the Express pipeline because of a tampered valve from people trespassing a locked facility. The line has been restarted. Kinder Morgan shut, and then restarted, the Puget Sound section of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

TransCanada’s proposed Energy East oil pipeline and natural-gas lines in the Northeastern United States have also faced criticism. Protesters interfered with a Spectra natural gas pipeline that will cross the Hudson River near Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point nuclear plant in New York state, occupying it for about 16 hours on Monday, company spokeswoman Marylee Hanley said.

Energy Transfer Partners owns the Dakota Access project jointly with Phillips 66 and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP. A joint venture between Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Enbridge Energy Partners LP, announced in August, will also take a minority stake in the pipeline.


Boss Of Pipeline Regulator Joked About Giving NEB Staff Tasers After Montreal Protest

Alyssa Symons-Bélanger is detained by police following protest at National Energy Board hearings on the Energy East pipeline in Montreal on Aug. 29, 2016. Photo by The Canadian Press.

Alyssa Symons-Bélanger is detained by police following protest at National Energy Board hearings on the Energy East pipeline in Montreal on Aug. 29, 2016. Photo by The Canadian Press.

Sept 15th 2016

A lone protester ran in circles, grabbing a government binder full of documents and waving it in the air as private security guards quickly surrounded the 34-year-old man and violently tried to restrain him.

That was the scene in Montreal a few weeks ago when Canada’s National Energy Board attempted, but failed, to hold public hearings on the Energy East pipeline, proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.

The NEB suspended the day’s hearings blaming protesters for initiating violence as the regulator struggled to cope with conflict of interest allegations that would later force recusals of its highest-ranking officials, including chief executive Peter Watson. The proceedings have been adjourned until replacements can be found.

The security breakdown appears to have annoyed senior management to the point that its top bureaucrat joked at a staff meeting that the regulator’s employees should be armed with tasers at public hearings.

NEB says Taser joke taken out of context

The NEB said the joke, by chief operating officer Josée Touchette, has been taken out of context by some of its employees and that she actually was trying “to diminish stressors and invite continuous dialogue.” But her ill-timed attempt at humour is likely to add some fresh ammunition for critics who believe the National Energy Board is too cozy with industry and in need of a complete overhaul.

The NEB has not clarified why security arrangements were so minimal and left in the hands of private security guards ahead of such a highly contentious hearing in a city known for public protest. National Observer has learned that Montreal police cancelled a contract to provide security for the NEB on a Friday, leaving only the weekend before the hearings started. Both the NEB and Montreal police said this was a normal decision, based on their evolving assessment of security.

But that decision left the first response in the hands of the private security who initiated the violent encounter.

National Energy Board, Montreal protest

Three NEB members, Lyne Mercier, Roland George and Jacques Gauthier, stand up as a protester known as “P-O” runs to the front of the room at the start of pipeline hearings in Montreal on Aug. 29, 2016. Screenshot from TVA.

The Montreal protest, triggered by allegations of conflict of interest uncovered in July and August by National Observer, would eventually force a three-member panel presiding over the hearings to adjourn and step aside in the face of a public outcry including criticism from cities, First Nations leaders and environmental groups across the country. Many of these stakeholders have called for a brand new review starting from square one, alleging bias in the panelists’ decision to accept the application from TransCanada as complete, despite missing information about dangerous water crossings along the proposed route, including the Ottawa and Saint-Lawrence Rivers.

Opponents of TransCanada’s Energy East project argue the project is too risky and will push Canada’s climate change goals out of reach. It is the largest pipeline ever proposed in Canada, 4,500 kilometre long with the capacity to carry up to 1.1 million barrels of oil per day between Alberta and New Brunswick.

Supporters, including many business and union leaders say the pipeline would create thousands of construction jobs and boost the Canadian economy.

P-O is detained by Montreal police following protest at National Energy Board hearings on the Energy East pipeline in Montreal on Aug. 29, 2016. Photo by AJ Korkidakis.

The running man who initiated the kerfuffle at the hearings remains mysterious. He has not been formally arraigned and his identity has not been released. He is known only as “P-O” (for Pierre-Olivier or Paul-Olivier) and his actions surprised other activists in the room. A few of them told National Observer they spontaneously decided to support the running man by chanting and clapping until the National Energy Board shut down the Montreal hearings on Aug. 29.

“It wasn’t really organized,” said Mikael Rioux, 40, a Montreal-based activist from Greenpeace, who was among three people detained by police, but not charged. “I was there early in the morning to organize the demonstration outside. When it finished, I told people (the pipeline panel session) was public and we had a right to be inside.”

So Rioux said he went up a few floors. He took the escalators and entered the room to find a group of people, including P-O, holding a banner in the front of the room when he arrived. No security guard tried to stop him from entering as the boisterous crowd chanted criticism of Calgary-based TransCanada and its regulator, the NEB, which is also based in Calgary.

“I stayed in the back and clapped and was yelling the same chants,” Rioux said.

Protesters featured in pipeline documentary

Rioux and his partner, Alyssa Symons-Bélanger, are no strangers to action against fossil fuel development. Both were recently involved in protests against Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline reversal project. Symons-Bélanger was part of civil disobedience action, chaining herself to a fence outside Suncor’s Montreal oil refinery, with two others in 2014. Rioux and Symons-Bélanger were also both featured in a recent documentary, called Pipelines, Power and Democracy.

Their spontaneous chanting during the Energy East hearings ended after Montreal police stormed the room, forcibly, detaining Rioux, Symons-Bélanger and the running man.

The NEB, which was ultimately responsible for the behaviour of the security guards, blamed protesters for provoking the violence.

According to sources who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, Josée Touchette, the NEB chief operating officer, held a staff meeting following the failed hearing and made the jokes about arming staff with tasers. The NEB told National Observer in a statement that Touchette was not trying to make light of the situation and denied that she did anything wrong.

“It is regrettable that Ms. Touchette’s words are being grossly taken out of context by your sources,” said NEB spokesman Craig Loewen.

“A staff meeting was called within a day of the violent events in Montreal, the purpose of which was to assure staff that senior management takes security very seriously and to take questions from staff in that regard.”

Loewen said that Touchette’s comments came at the end of the meeting as she recounted a chat she had just had with a Board member who observed, “how Canadian it was for the protestor to give back a binder of NEB materials to a staff member while he was resisting security.”

Footage shows security guards initiated violence

Footage captured by television networks show that private security guards, hired by the NEB, initiated the violent encounter with P-O, after he ran up to the table where the three panelists, Roland George, Lyne Mercier and Jacques Gauthier, were sitting. All three later recused themselves from sitting on the panel due to the conflict of interest allegations. The footage also shows P-O politely nodding to the NEB employee as he returned the binder.

“Ms. Touchette did say in jest, at that point only, that this staff member shouldn’t try to wrestle materials out of protestors’ hands lest she was equipped with something like a Taser. At no point did Ms. Touchette imply that hearing staff should be armed in any way.”

“This comment was in no way an attempt to diminish the situation staff faced in Montreal. It was an attempt to close the staff meeting on a lighter note to diminish stressors and invite continuous dialogue. Any suggest(ion) to the contrary is misreading the intent of the comments.”

National Energy Board, Montreal protest
National Energy Board, Montreal protest
National Energy Board, Montreal protest

A protester, known as P-O, grabs a government binder, but then returns it after being asked by an NEB employee in Montreal on Aug. 29, 2016. Screenshots from TVA.

The television footage also shows an NEB employee gesturing for the private security guards to stop manhandling the running man.

Symons-Bélanger, a 27-year old from Trois-Pistoles in Eastern Quebec, argues that all of the problems have been provoked by the NEB and energy companies that are seeking to radically expand Canada’s oil and gas industry.

“It’s easy to qualify something as violence for someone who is running in the room,” said Symons-Bélanger in an interview.

“Whenever we disrupt the image of what’s acceptable, it’s easy to label it as violence. But the violence comes from these institutions and these multinational companies.”

National Energy Board, Montreal protest

An NEB employee gestures for private security, hired by the regulator, to stop manhandling a protester at Montreal hearings for Energy East on Aug. 29, 2016. Screenshot from TVA.

Symons-Bélanger said she tried to free herself after one of the police officers aggressively grabbed her arm. Rioux also said that he doesn’t know why police detained him and that they initially failed to read him his rights or inform him how he broke the law.

P-O declined a request for an interview from National Observer.

Montreal police say the three were detained and will face a range of charges related to assault and resisting arrest. But none of the three were immediately arraigned for any formal criminal charges related to the protest.

No other protesters were arrested and Rioux questioned whether police had targeted him and Symons-Bélanger through profiling because of their previous activism.

“When they told everyone to leave, I started to move out and a police officer grabbed me by the arm. I (saw) that he was arresting (Symons-Bélanger) and she was yelling that he was hurting her.”

Montreal police said the three that they detained, P-O, Rioux and Symons-Bélanger, were warned to clear the room before police came in and that’s why they were arrested.

Police also said that the local security had the right to use “reasonable force” to ensure security for participants and members of the public that attended the hearings.

“The three people who were arrested were warned to leave the room, but not by the police. The ‘owners’ of the area asked the people to leave,” Montreal police spokeswoman Mélanie Lajoie toldNational Observer. “The people were therefore warned, a notice was read to them, telling them to leave (and) the police were then called to assist with those responsible (for the room.)”

Kristian Gareau, 36, a Montreal resident who joined in the protest inside the hearings room, believes the security response reflects a colonial attitude from government and industry and their sense of entitlement.

“It’s about this insidious culture of violence that’s very subtle,” said Gareau, a masters student studying the environmental politics of pipeline debates in Canada. “So it’s not really that surprising to me that the very same culture that propagates this form of petroleum violence is also accusing protesters — who are peacefully standing up for the rights of mother earth and its peoples — of violence. I think it’s really quite shameful.”


Keystone Pipeline Shut Down After Crude Leak In South Dakota

TransCanada and regulatory officials are working together on remediation of the site, above. (Supplied )

TransCanada and regulatory officials are working together on remediation of the site, above. (Supplied )

CBC News Posted: Apr 04, 2016

The source of the leak remains under investigation

TransCanada Corp. has shut down its Keystone crude oil pipeline indefinitely after a leak was detected Saturday afternoon in South Dakota.

The company is investigating the incident near its Freeman pump station, in a remote area of Hutchinson County.

It is not clear how much oil was spilled but cleanup is underway.

“We’ve been given an early estimate, but until they actually dig down to the pipeline, I don’t think they’re going to have a firm number on the exact number of gallons that were involved,” said Chris Nelson, chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.

TransCanada is in the process of removing the oil and investigating the source of the leak, reported at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“No significant impact to the environment has been observed and our investigation continues,” Calgary-based TransCanada officials said in a statement.

The pipeline remains shut down from Hardisty, Alta., to Wood River, Ill., and from Steele City, Neb., to Cushing, Okla. However, the Gulf Coast line, from Cushing to Nederland, Texas, remains operational.

TransCanada has advised affected shippers the line will remain closed until at least Friday.

Keystone pipeline

TransCanada continues to investigate the cause of the leak, which was detected Saturday afternoon in a remote area of South Dakota. (Supplied)


Sioux Nation Draws Battle Lines Over Pipeline Route

In testimony filed prior to the hearings, Young stated: "TransCanada has never demonstrated any respect for the Indian nations. That is why the PUC should deny certification of the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project."

In testimony filed prior to the hearings, Young stated: “TransCanada has never demonstrated any respect for the Indian nations. That is why the PUC should deny certification of the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.”

By: Talli Nauman – Native Sun News Health & Environment Editor

PIERRE – TransCanada Corp. cannot meet the socio-economic conditions necessary for building the proposed Keystone XL tar-sands crude-oil pipeline through Lakota treaty territory, representatives and expert witnesses for four tribal governments testified during hearings July 27 through Aug. 4.

The South Dakota Public Utility Commission scheduled the evidentiary hearings to air debate for its decision on the Canadian corporation’s request for renewal of a permit to build the line 314 miles through the counties of Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp.

The permit would help the Canadian company reach its longstanding goal of connecting the Alberta oil shale fields with the refineries and export facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast. Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Councilor Phyllis Young said water quality is the main socio-economic concern. Treaty rights establish Lakota dominion over the air, land, and water that TransCanada Corp. seeks for the pipeline, but the company has not consulted with the tribe on that matter.

“I take objection with TransCanada, which does not have the authority to do that in this country. Treaties have set aside the homelands for us. Please understand, we are protecting our people,” Young said. “The ranchers, farmers, and Indians in South Dakota have not been consulted. I have a long history of relations with the people who want their homes to be protected, I speak for them also,” she said.

In testimony filed prior to the hearing, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Historic Preservation Office elaborated on the argument:

“The Keystone XL Pipeline (and other pipelines) will cross aboriginal and treaty territory that was exclusively set aside by the U.S. government for the Sioux Nation (Ft. Laramie Treaties of 1851and 1868).” The Sioux people were nomadic people and followed the buffalo. Our valuable cultural resources are located throughout the path of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Yet the proper procedures to make the requisite determinations have not been followed.

“The tribe said the permit renewal should be denied because “Keystone XL Pipeline is unable to continue to comply with Amended Condition number 43.” That condition of the original 2009 state permit, a document which has expired due to inaction, requires TransCanada Corp. to notify landowners if a possible protectable resource is found in the course of pipeline-related activities.

In testimony filed prior to the hearings, Young stated: “TransCanada has never demonstrated any respect for the Indian nations. That is why the PUC should deny certification of the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.”

TransCanada Corp. attorney William Taylor said the company is not required to consult with tribes. “Government-to-government discussions are between the U.S. and tribes, not TransCanada and tribes,” he said. “This discussion is irrelevant.”

Commissioners granted Taylor the opportunity to file a post-hearing brief arguing the basis for his objections. He asked Young, “Are you familiar with TransCanada’s Indigenous People’s Policy.” She replied: “I’m not sure.”

The policy states: “TransCanada respects the diversity of aboriginal cultures, recognizes the importance of the land and cultivates relationships based on trust and respect; TransCanada works together with aboriginal communities to identify impacts of company activities on the community’s values and needs in order to find mutually acceptable solutions and benefits.”

Jennifer Baker, attorney for the Yankton Sioux Tribe, presented a portion of the policy statement and asked, “Do you think TransCanada complies with its own policy on aboriginal relations?”
Young answered, “No.”

Representing the Yankton Sioux Tribe was Faith Spotted Eagle, elected by the tribal General Council to the Ihanktonwan Treaty Committee, which she chairs. She said the objective of the Yankton tribe’s testimony was “to provide information to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission that the applicant does not continue to meet all conditions upon which the permit was issued including violations of treaties, socio-cultural threats, and threats to safe drinking water, in particular reference to the potential coming of man camps which presents a safety conference of an at risk population already threatened by violence.

“It is frightening to think that no fore planning has been done to even recognize what happens when man camps are plopped into rural communities where wide gaps exist in law enforcement further impinged upon by cross-jurisdictional problems between reservation and state areas, which are long standing issues,” she said.

“Man camps are inhabited by young and single men who are suddenly away from their families, spouses, and have the financial means to use and abuse illicit drugs. The result is easy to predict and does not require any scientific analysis – these young men, unfortunately, increase the crime rates including violent crimes, sexual crimes, and drug-related crimes. It is common sense that these men will need recreational outlets and will seek these at nearby casinos, including ours,” she said, citing the tribe’s Ft. Randall Casino and Hotel.

She noted that “the pipeline would trespass right through treaty territory guaranteed by the Ft. Laramie Treaty as well as additional lands beyond that area that are unceded lands, and we still retain a multitude of rights on those lands based on the treaty that are protected by federal law and that are vital to our cultural, spiritual, and physical survival.”

Among the rights are: hunting, fishing, gathering medicinal plants, use of the water, burial responsibilities, and sacred site protection, she said.

Yankton Sioux Tribal Police Chief Chris Sauncosi notified commissioners that he “can show that TransCanada cannot continue to meet the conditions upon which its original permit was issued.”

In a written statement, Sauncosi said, “I can provide testimony about the lack of interaction or communication between TransCanada and Tribal law enforcement and emergency response personnel.”

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Historical Preservation Officer Steve Vance, also formerly a law enforcement officer for the tribe, filed testimony stating that the pipeline construction phases “will greatly hinder the tribe’s and tribal member’s access to numerous cultural and historic sites. After all, people cannot simply walk through active construction zones to get to these sites.” If the pipeline is built, he said, “There will undoubtedly be an ongoing need for general inspection and maintenance of the completed pipeline. This, in turn, would place pipeline workers within the vicinity of many sacred places. Traditional practitioners seeking solitude while performing traditional worship practices would almost certainly be interrupted by pipeline workers. “As such, any disturbance by pipeline workers will necessarily have an immense negative impact on the ability of tribal members to perform traditional practices at these affected cultural and historical sites.

Vance compared the pipeline’s potential impact to the results of mining in the Black Hills. “This proposed project will have long term negative effects emotionally and spiritually on many tribal members.

Keystone held one teleconference some four years ago and made a visit to the tribal chairman’s office a year ago, according to Vance. However, he said, “The impacts to cultural resources could not be discussed during these preliminary meetings because the resources were not sufficiently identified at the time.”

He said measures to avoid and mitigate impacts on cultural and historic resources should have been addressed in a Programmatic Agreement, but the tribe “was not involved in the development of the P.A.”

Paula Antoine, Director of the Sicangu Oyate Land Office said the Rosebud Sioux Tribe “has passed resolutions to deny the KXL any access to our lands and in opposition of the pipeline. We view the KXL pipeline as the threat of “the black snake coming from the north” that was revealed to us through prophecy by our ancestors many years ago.”

She noted that a spiritual camp was established in March 2014 to publicly oppose “the black snake and all of the negative things it represents.”

She argued that “none of the testimony offered by Keystone or the PUC Staff shows or attempts to even demonstrate that the welfare of the citizens of South Dakota will not be impaired by the project. She said TransCanada has yet to prove its project will not pose a threat of serious injury to the socioeconomic conditions in the project area; will not substantially impair the health, safety, or welfare of the inhabitants in the project area; and will not unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region.

None of the testimony offers any evidence regarding whether or not the project will continue to have minimal effects in the areas of agriculture, commercial and industrial sectors, land values, housing, sewer and water, solid waste management, transportation, cultural and historic resources, health services, schools, recreation, public safety, noise and visual impacts, she said.

Construction Equipment Guide, Published On: 8/10/2015