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New Pipeline Threatens East River, But Keystone XL May Go Away!

Evidently Big Oil is going to lay pipelines and hogwash all over South Dakota. Oil and Gas Association dirctor Adam Martin is running around East River telling folks that having the Dakota Access pipeline shoved through their land is somehow a glorious chance to participate in the oil boom.

Help me understand: my neighbor Charlie Johnson gets a big oil pipeline under his organic farm that will carry potentially leaky, explosive oil for maybe 30 years, then sit there and pollute and collapse long afterwards, and he capitalizes on that... how?

As long as America and the industrialized world remains addicted to oil, there's probably no getting around pipelines. But if we buck long enough, we might get the pipelines to go around us. Look at Keystone XL. President Barack Obama as been keeping TransCanada's tar sands pipeline at bay for years with his cowardly but clever delays. And now Alberta's oil producers may take a different route, east through Canada to the Atlantic!

In this period of national gloom comes an idea -- a crazy-sounding notion, or maybe, actually, an epiphany. How about an all-Canadian route to liberate that oil sands crude from Alberta’s isolation and America’s fickleness? Canada’s own environmental and aboriginal politics are holding up a shorter and cheaper pipeline to the Pacific that would supply a shipping portal to oil-thirsty Asia.

Instead, go east, all the way to the Atlantic.

Thus was born Energy East, an improbable pipeline that its backers say has a high probability of being built. It will cost C$12 billion ($10.7 billion) and could be up and running by 2018. Its 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude [Rebecca Penty, Hugo Miller, Andrew Mayeda and Edward Greenspon, "Keystone Be Darned: Canada Finds Oil Route Around Obama," Bloomberg, 2014.10.08].

Running even more tar sands oil through Canada instead of South Dakota wouldn't make Bill McKibben, climate-change crusaders, or alternative-energy advocates happy. But it would keep South Dakotans from bearing the costs of a pipeline that does not serve South Dakota interests.

And if Energy East supplants Keystone XL, it will be because committed activists kept up the pressure that forced the market to seek other solutions. That's not a total win, but it's better than nothing.

So Charlie, what can we do to get Dakota Access to seek alternatives?


  1. lesliengland 2014.10.11

    I would like to bash daugaard more, so isn't his pro-KXL stance an election issue? also, I noticed in the debate yesterday he didn't claim Atlas mitigation as one of his phenomenal natural disaster response achievements. did the state eventually make all nice with the stranded ranchers, or "was that a federal matter"? :)

  2. Jessie 2014.10.11

    This was my response last March. Forgive me for repeating it.

    Obama does not want to have the refusal available as fuel for the Republicans during the midterm election cycle. Therefore, any delay he or other Democrats can create is to the good.
    Cowardice? Naah. Simple political manuevering. Taking the heat for not making the decision is small potatos.

    So who is going to start screaming "Not in my backyard!" next? Those nice Canadians.

  3. Lynn 2014.10.11

    Maybe I missed this somewhere but I am curious as to how many landowners/farmers and ranchers are fighting this going directly across their land. Anyone know? What percentage?

  4. Lynn 2014.10.11

    Cory notice the comments diminish here and on other more pressing South Dakota threads you have put considerable time into due to the hijacking by this fella Angelo on the Betty Olson thread? Conversations regarding differing opinions is one thing but this is crazy. What's next some attention starved white supremacist or Neo Nazi?

  5. Stan Gibilisco 2014.10.11

    If we South Dakotans come out of all this pipeline nonsense both safer and wiser, I'll give my oceanfront property in Minnesota to whoever saved our collective patootie.

  6. Paul Seamans 2014.10.11

    Lynn, in 2008 when TransCanada first came into the area threatening ranchers with eminent domain Dakota Rural Action stepped forward and organized landowners into a group, Protect South Dakota Resources, that negotiated directly with TC to obtain a fairer easement. Our PSDR members controlled about a third of the 313 miles going through SD. These landowners had a strong presence at the PUC hearings on the Keystone XL permit hearings. Because of our participation in the hearings the PUC added an additional 50 conditions onto the permit. Because of grassroots opposition to the KXL the pipeline permit expired after four years with no construction being done. Now TransCanada must certify to the PUC that all these original permit conditions are being satisfied and that their permit should be renewed. Dakota Rural Action, landowners, tribal allies, and others will be at these hearings testifying that conditions have changed in the past four years and that the PUC should not renew the permit.

  7. Lynn 2014.10.12

    Paul that's great! I lived out of state during the time of the 1st TransCananda pipeline. I'm curious if what they promised in tax revenue, jobs and economic benefit for school districts, counties and the state ever came true? Have there been issues with the 1st pipline so far?

  8. Ken Blanchard 2014.10.15

    I have some comments on this wonderful post at South Dakota Politics.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.16

    And your comment section is closed, Ken, so I can't respond there. Darn it! Nonetheless, glad to hear from you!

    And I concede none of my arguments against the pipeline. It is unnecessary and harmful no matter which way it runs. I am saying that if all my rhetorical might is insufficient to stop the pipeline from happening, then yes, I would rather it run somewhere other than South Dakota. I would rather that the country that stands to reap most of the benefits host as many of the externalities as possible rather than foisting those externalities onto South Dakota, which gains little of anything from the pipeline.

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