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PUC to Reconsider Keystone XL Pipeline Schedule

October 5, 2009

Another item relating to the Keystone XL pipeline has been added to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission’s meeting agenda for October 6, 2009. In addition to reconsidering whether to order TransCanada to provide more information about its plans in case of a Keystone XL pipeline accident (see post below), the PUC is going to look again at the proceeding schedule.

TransCanada’s failure to voluntarily provide certain information directly relating to the Keystone XL pipeline has resulted in delay. Each time Dakota Rural Action’s attorneys have to go to the PUC and ask them to order TransCanada to provide more information about the pipeline, it takes time for the Commission to meet, for TransCanada to then produce the information, and for DRA’s attorneys to review it. Complicating matters, the Commission met to discuss Keystone XL pipeline discovery disputes the day AFTER testimony was due. As a result, important information needed to create the testimony was not available by the testimony filing deadline.

According to PUC staff, the South Dakota legislature has decreed that the Commission can only take one year to make a decision whether to approve pipelines like Keystone XL. Whether the Commission will have enough information to make a well-considered decision by then remains to be seen. Plains Justice attorney Paul Blackburn was told by the U.S. Department of State that the feds will probably delay publication of the Keystone XL pipeline’s environmental impact statement (EIS). If the EIS is prepared correctly, it will contain information about the Keystone XL pipeline’s possible effects on human health, human socioeconomics, and human communities.  

Surely most people would agree that the Commission should consider impacts on human beings before deciding whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. But will the Commission be able to adjust its schedule to include considering those impacts? Or will the South Dakota legislature’s one-year deadline get in the way?

The PUC will meet on Oct. 6, 2009 at 9:30 am CT.

You can listen to the meeting live over the web through the PUC website.

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