Dennis, I told you so.

In a stunning about face, Governor Dennis Daugaard has declared that TransCanada's assurances about the safety of its controversial Keystone XL pipeline are not enough:

Gov. Dennis Daugaard will ask the Legislature this session to "impose additional protections" on the Keystone XL pipeline, similar to concessions that Nebraska lawmakers recently won from TransCanada, a spokesman said Friday.

...Daugaard spokesman Tony Venhuizen said offering similar protections for South Dakota is only fair.

"We've already let TransCanada know that they can't be cutting special deals for some states just because they protest more," he said. "The squeaky Cornhusker wheel shouldn't get all the grease" [Cody Winchester, "Pipeline Plan Meets Growing Resistance," that Sioux Falls paper, 2011.10.30].

I don't want to get my hopes up, but one could read Governor Daugaard's change in position as a significant turning point in the debate over Keystone XL. Dennis Daugaard is a conservative, pro-business governor who has had nothing but good things to say about TransCanada and its tar sands oil pipeline system. In September he said existing state regulations were sufficient to guarantee safety and accountability on the pipeline. He asserted his faith in TransCanada in a letter submitted at the September 29 State Department hearing in Pierre.

I would like to think the governor changed his mind out of something more than Cornhusker envy (although I'll take a victory against Keystone XL wherever I can get it). In that September letter to Secretary Clinton, Governor Daugaard said that "landowners hold a precious, even sacred, bond to their land." Maybe he took a look at the long list of South Dakotans facing eminent domain lawsuits from TransCanada and felt sick to his Republican stomach (as ought we all!). Perhaps he figured that if white folks and Indians can agree to protest Keystone XL, it must be really bad.

Whatever tipped the scales for the governor, we should all be grateful that he has admitted he was wrong about TransCanada. But we should also remain vigilant. Governor Daugaard hasn't laid out a specific legislative package to address his newfound concerns about Keystone XL. We must hold the governor to his word, tell out legislators to do the same, and demand some serious safeguards, including a stringent and non-capped pipeline tax as insurance against major oil spills.

Of course, maybe we won't need a legislative package. Maybe just this declaration will be enough to make TransCanada realize it's losing its propaganda campaign to put the prairie at risk. Maybe President Obama will see that when Keystone XL raises concerns even among conservative Republican governors, denying the pipeline its permit will be not only good for his political fortunes, but good for South Dakota and good for America.

Bonus Documentation: Below is the list, compiled by Cody Winchester, of TransCanada's eminent domain lawsuits in South Dakota, including the many neighbors who lost their property rights for the first Keystone pipeline across eastern South Dakota.

DEFENDANT COUNTY STATUS DATE FILED DOCKET NO.
Keystone XL
1. Ruth Iverson Jones Hearing pending 7/1/2011 37CIV11000023
2. John and Tammy Harter Tripp Hearing held 5/25/2011 61CIV11000062
3. Clinton Iverson Jones Hearing pending 3/30/2011 37CIV11000012
4. Beatrice, James, Joseph and James Rathburn, Lon Lyman Jones Hearing pending 3/30/2011 37CIV11000013
5. George Iverson Jones Unlisted 2/14/2011 37CIV11000006
6. Rita Robinson Jones Hearing pending 2/14/2011 37CIV11000008
7. Deloris Iverson Jones Unlisted 2/14/2011 37CIV11000007
8. Patterson Construction, Jerry, Joan and April Patterson Haakon Hearing pending 12/20/2010 27CIV10000047
9. Lon Lyman Jones Hearing pending 12/16/2010 37CIV10000018
10. Thomas and Marcia Laprath, First Fidelity Bank Tripp Unlisted 10/4/2010 61CIV10000114
11. Nina Vansickel, Norman R Vansickel Trust and Margaret Vansickel Trust Meade Unlisted 10/1/2010 46CIV10000619
12. Nina Vansickel Meade Unlisted 10/1/2010 46CIV62000619
13. Nina Vansickel Meade Unlisted 10/1/2010 46CIV10000620
14. Robert Jones and Charles Blain Meade Terminated 10/1/2010 46CIV10000621
15. Edward Wallace Jones Jury trial pending 10/1/2010 37CIV10000012
16. Leroy Volmer Jones Jury trial pending 10/1/2010 37CIV10000013
17. Reverse El Ranch Perkins Unlisted 9/30/2010 52CIV10000044
18. Russ Wyant, Casey & Edward Humble Perkins Unlisted 9/30/2010 52CIV10000045
19. 28 defendants Harding Unlisted 7/18/2011 31CIV11000028
20. QEP Resources, Lloyd Parks, Jean Tennant Harding Unlisted 1/26/2011 31CIV11000011
21. Bledsoe Land Company Harding Unlisted 1/10/2011 31CIV11000004
22. Jeff Leber Tripp Terminated 10/27/2010 61CIV10000127
23. Lorraine Sacquitne and Roger Gunderson Harding Terminated 9/30/2010 31CIV10000017
24. 21 defendants, Protect South Dakota Resources (intervenor) Harding Terminated 5/22/2009 31CIV09000011
Keystone I
1. 36 defendants Yankton Terminated 10/14/2008 66CIV08000643
2. Dean and Cynthia Farley Yankton Terminated 8/27/2008 66CIV08000533
3. Donald, Dorothy and Dan Jensen, Farm Credit Services of America Beadle Terminated 7/15/2008 02CIV08000333
4. Heine Farms & Jerry Poeschl Yankton Terminated 7/15/2008 66CIV08000400
5. J. James Neu Trust Yankton Terminated 7/15/2008 66CIV08000401
6. Holdgrafer Family Partnership, Eric Meire Clark Terminated 7/15/2008 12CIV08000023
7. Donald and Ava Tucker Yankton Terminated 7/15/2008 66CIV08000402
8. William and Kenneth Klimisch, Karel Toohey Yankton Terminated 7/15/2008 66CIV08000403
9. Wayne Foote Marshall Terminated 11/6/2008 43CIV08000071
10. Norjo, Inc. Miner Terminated 10/17/2008 48CIV08000067
11. Bradley, Gregory, Jeffrey, Jon, Susanne, Bonita, Tamara, Rhona Albrecht and Wells Fargo Bank Miner Terminated 10/7/2008 48CIV08000068
12. James and Ramon Feller, Mark Wattier Day Terminated 7/14/2008 18CIV08000078
13. James and Ramon Feller, Greg Bonn Day Terminated 7/14/2008 18CIV08000079
14. Edward and Deette M Goss Living Kingsbury Terminated 7/14/2008 38CIV08000059
15. Debbra and William Calmus, Wayne Moore, Farm Credit Services of America Miner Terminated 7/14/2008 48CIV08000044
16. Gene Hofer Miner Terminated 7/14/2008 48CIV08000045
17. Arthur Stip, Cortrust Bank Miner Terminated 7/14/2008 48CIV08000046
18. Richard and Bernetta Burghardt, Great Plains Bank Miner Terminated 7/14/2008 48CIV08000047
19. Milo Stip, Cortrust Bank Miner Terminated 7/14/2008 48CIV08000048
20. Orville Hofer Trust Miner Terminated 7/14/2008 48CIV08000049
21. Luella Wagner, Kevin Anderson Day Terminated 12/26/2007 18CIV07000144
22. Jean Burger and Greg Johnson Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000069
23. Michael Burger and Farm Credit Services of America Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000070
24. Robert and Janice Carlson, Wells Fargo Bank Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000071
25. Donald Fisher Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000072
26. Wayne Foote Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000073
27. Richard and Mary Hastings Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000074
28. Darlene and Robert Hastings Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000075
29. Aletta and Joshua Kraft, Renald and Allison Tank, Dacotah Bank Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000076
30. Newark Co. and Dorn Malpert Marshall Terminated 10/22/2007 43CIV07000077
31. Mary and Calvin Hayenga, Farm Credit Bank of Omaha Day Terminated 10/19/2007 18CIV07000114
32. Schuring Farms, Inc., and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. Day Terminated 10/19/2007 18CIV07000115
33. Raymond and Lillian Anderson, Farm Credit Services of America Marshall Terminated 9/7/2007 43CIV07000051
34. James Bush and BDM Rural Water System, Inc. Marshall Terminated 9/7/2007 43CIV07000052
35. Donald and David Doctor Marshall Terminated 9/7/2007 43CIV07000053
36. Robert Farrar, Don Tisher and First Savings Bank Marshall Terminated 9/7/2007 43CIV07000054
37. Merl Moeckly, Darian Kilker and BDM Rural Water System Marshall Terminated 9/7/2007 43CIV07000055
38. Gene Tisher Marshall Terminated 9/7/2007 43CIV07000056
39. Ronald and Jeanne Smeins, Shawn Gengerke Day Terminated 9/5/2007 18CIV07000087
40. Richard Voss and Richard Voss Trust Day Terminated 9/5/2007 18CIV07000088
41. Lois Albin and James Olson Day Terminated 9/5/2007 18CIV07000089
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