News Articles | Aberdeen News | John Harter | November 01, 2009
In this article, Mercer made Dakota Rural Action and attorney Paul Blackburn out to be a lone dog organization making trouble for TransCanada and the PUC of South Dakota. Within the article it is hard to determine whether this is the feeling of the PUC of South Dakota, or just a poorly informed, one-sided reporter.
I think you will find in history, it is very often a few fighting for the many. Dakota Rural Action is a membership-driven organization with 650 members and growing. Dakota Rural Action has been working with its landowner members, myself included, along the TransCanada XL pipeline route to serve key issues that are important to the landowners and citizens of South Dakota. I think it is important to note that these concerns are being raised, not just in South Dakota, but in other states which could be affected by the KXL pipeline, such as Montana and Nebraska.
Some of these issues are water safety, soil erosion, reclamation, set-backs from homes, water wells and other high consequence areas and property rights. Two other key issue are pipeline abandonment and liability/ risk to the landowners.
When TransCanada was going from town to town selling its pipeline to the public, they told us that the line would be nearly one-half inch thick, on the main part of the line and nearly three-quarter inch thick under roads and in high consequence areas. What they have not told people is that they have filed for a permit to run a lighter pipeline wall thickness and at a higher operating pressure. The tactic was also used by TransCanada on the Keystone I project, and the permit was granted. This factor alone should cause concern, as the pipeline crosses or runs close to many water lines, rivers, streams and drinking water sources in our state.
TransCanada’s own expert witness testified to the PUC of South Dakota that in Tripp County, my home county, “The High Plains aquifer sediments along the proposed pipeline route occur at or very near land surface, have a shallow depth to water (the water table in this area), and are generally permeable.” To me, they are admitting that they are putting our best resource – water – at risk. Ask yourself, is this oil money worth your drinking water?
We are being told that we need to get away from foreign oil; last I knew, Canada and China are not a part of the United States. We were also sold the idea that gambling would cure our state’s revenue problems; it has not and the quickly depreciable tax revenues from this pipeline won’t either.
On Keystone I, TransCanada’s first oil line through South Dakota, the cost of construction was estimated at about $300 million, with contractor’s excise tax revenue of about $18 million. Under state law, our governor may give back 75 percent of this $18 million, or about $13.5 million. If this is done on Keystone XL, the governor will be refunding to TransCanada an estimated $55 million. The cash cow is starting to look anemic; and we as resident tax payers and citizens are stuck with road damage and reclamation issues, the loss of value to our property, and the event of 36 percent crude oil pipeline blow-out.
The issues are too many to cover in one article. I would ask for fellow South Dakotans to get on board and help our state progress into the future safely, rather than charging forward blinded by dollar signs. Hopefully this will get some of you motivated to help; we need your support.
Paul Blackburn is not only an outstanding lawyer, he is also an outstanding person; And I, John Harter, as a landowner am proud to have Paul Blackburn and Dakota Rural Acton on my side.
John Harter is a rancher in the Winner area.