Keystone XL permit renewal before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission

Previous coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline in South Dakota.

TransCanada received a permit with conditions in 2008, but lack of DOS approval led to it expiring before the foreign company could start construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.  Several tribes and state citizens are fighting renewal before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which recently concluded nine days of hearings about the pipeline.  Tribes asserted TransCanada had not met its burden of satisfying federal law as a condition of the permit.

Link to recordings and documents on the SDPUC website.

There already is a Keystone pipeline that runs through South Dakota.  The Phase 1 pipe starts in Canada, at the same location the Keystone XL pipeline will start, then cuts east across Saskatchewan and Manitoba before going south to Nebraska.  The XL version is bigger, obviously, and will cut an almost straight line from Alberta to Nebraska on its way to the Gulf of Mexico to take advantage of the Bakken crude boom in Montana and the Dakotas.  PUC previously concluded that the negative effects generated from billions of gallons of oil pumping over the State’s water sources unsupervised was greatly outweighed by its benefits, namely the $9.1 million in tax revenue it was supposed to pay counties.  However, the full amount was never paid and now TransCanada promises to pay even more money and still guarantees job growth that DOS has reported is negligible.

Bakken Boom Satellite Maps

Amazing material. Thanks to Drs. Braun and Reed at the University of North Dakota.



Since late 2011, Dr. Sebastian Braun (American Indian Studies) and Dr. Ann Reed (Anthropology) have been working on a project to investigate the social impacts of the Bakken oil boom in western North Dakota.

One of the best ways to visualize the impacts of the boom is through satellite images. Seen from the ground level, it is hard to imagine the overall impact on the landscape, the ecosystem, and the flora and fauna (including homo sapiens) that depend on it. Satellite images reveal the challenges, changes, and disruptions that are caused by access roads and well pads, as well as the booming support economy. This is especially true if viewed over time – in case of a boom, a short time.

Here are some examples of Satellite images from 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2012 of specific locations: Mandaree, New Town, and Watford City. We will add more images in the future.

These images reveal how the physical environment has been changed, and make it possible, perhaps, to imagine how the landscape might look like in the future.