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SD PUC Protects Fossils and Private Property Rights

May 5, 2010

Yesterday the South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioners voted unanimously to maintain and improve important protections for Keystone XL landowners but postponed a final decision on fossil protection.

The PUC vote came after TransCanada asked for changes to the conditions the Commissioners put on the Keystone XL pipeline when they approved the pipeline earlier this year.

The Commissioners voted to protect fossils on private land to the same degree as on federal land. PUC General Counsel John Smith will draft a revised condition, which the parties will review. Then the Commissioners are expected to sign the order.

Here’s a quote from Paul Blackburn, a Plains Justice attorney who has represented family farm and ranch group Dakota Rural Action in the pipeline proceedings at the PUC:

We thank the Commissioners for protecting private property rights. We look forward to modified conditions that make clear that South Dakota protects private property rights in fossils to the same degree as they are protected on federal land.  Landowners should not have to pay for excavation of fossils that are found when the Keystone XL pipeline is constructed. The landowners didn’t ask to have this pipeline placed on their property, so it they shouldn’t have to pay to protect their own private property rights.

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