Wednesday, November 2, 2011

South Dakota Wants Additional Protections Against Spills from the Keystone XL Pipeline

Due to concerns about groundwater contamination, South Dakota govenor Dennis Daugaard has asked the Legislature to "impose additional protections" on the Keystone XL pipeline, similar to concessions that Nebraska lawmakers recently won from TransCanada.

TransCanada met with Nebraska officials and offered concessions in lieu of rerouting the pipeline, among them encircling the pipeline with concrete or rock jacketing where it crosses a shallow water table, moving spill response teams closer to the Sandhills and offering a $100 million performance bond to cover spill cleanup. All of which were dismissed as inadequate by Nebraska environmentalists.

Opponents nationwide are waging a much more aggressive campaign to block Keystone XL than they mustered against the first project known as Keystone I. Aquifer contamination from groundwater spills have been a concern for both pipelines. However, these concerns are greater for the Keystone XL as the proposed route of the pipeline traverses the massive Ogallala Aquifer, which is the main source of water for eight states including South Dakota.

Since 2008, Dakota Rural Action and some South Dakota legislators have unsuccessfully pushed for a pipeline cleanup fund, similar to what TransCanada now is offering Nebraska.

Daugaard spokesman Tony Venhuizen said it is only fair that South Dakota should be offered similar protections to those offered to Nebraska. "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."

It would appear the protests in Nebraska have forced TransCanada to offer additional safety measures. In South Dakota there have been less protests making it easier for TransCanada to ignore the safety concerns in that state.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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