Setting the record straight about Keystone XL

Keystone, Veto
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As a rancher from South Dakota whose land would be threatened by the Keystone XL pipeline, I hear a lot of claims about the project from TransCanada and politicians who want to see the pipeline built. They say they have worked with landowners and made agreements to build on our property. They say this will be the safest pipeline ever built. They say our families will benefit economically from having their pipeline built in our communities. It’s time to set the record straight.

I want to be clear: TransCanada does not have an agreement with me. They don’t have an easement across my property. All agreements were voided by me due to a breach of contract by TransCanada. Any entry onto my property by TransCanada will be considered trespassing and they will be removed.

{mosads}TransCanada has never negotiated in fair and good faith. This is due to the state of South Dakota granting them the use of eminent domain, despite them being a foreign corporation building this pipeline for private profit. Lying, bullying, and coercion were all used to attain easements from South Dakotans, and to say that landowners have willingly handed their land over to this corporation is a total mischaracterization.

What I learned in listening to TransCanada during the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission hearings last week is that they will not build the safest pipeline ever built. TransCanada has downgraded the pipe wall thickness in high consequence areas and under roads. Their lead engineer believes Keystone I, a pipeline that spilled 14 times in its first year of operation, is safe. TransCanada has no answer to how they will clean up a spill into our aquifer. They do not have an emergency response plan. They refuse to be open and transparent about where they believe they are putting South Dakotans at highest risk. They don’t want us to know.

I also learned that TransCanada has been dishonest about how they would contribute to our state’s economy. They have skirted around all our questions about their made-up tax revenue numbers, numbers they use to try to convince the public that this pipeline is in their best interest. The permitting of this pipeline is ignorant and fueled by greed. This pipeline is not a need, it is a want. It is about moving volumes of diluted bitumen from Canada to the Gulf Coast for export.

The permitting of the pipeline will cost me in excess of $40,000 per year. The taking of property for this permit is a violation of our rights. And the entire process violates the rights of this country’s Indigenous peoples. As a South Dakotan I will stand up for my property rights and the rights of this country’s First Nations.

I will also stand up for my right to due process. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission sanctioned interveners in this hearing for alleged violations of discovery, but did not sanction TransCanada for the same violation. TransCanada asked for the ruling in the first place – when do we stop giving this company leeway and exceptions to their own rules?

The mess TransCanada has made of Keystone I and what’s been revealed in last week’s hearings prove that TransCanada cannot be trusted to tell the truth to South Dakotans or to build their pipeline across our land. It is time to reject Keystone XL once and for all. 

Harter is a rancher whose land is crossed by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route in South Dakota and is vice chair of the Dakota Rural Action Board of Directors.

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