South Dakota could see big economic gains with the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline: once construction begins, the project could contribute 3000-4000 jobs, well over $100 million in earnings, and $20 million in property taxes to the state economy. Although the KXL has already received approval from the state’s Public Utilities Commission, federal delays on the project means that it must undergo a re-certification process before the state permit is renewed. Opposition groups are attempting to turn this procedural recertification into a forum on the merits of the KXL by asking the PUC to delay hearings on the project, calling it a “waste of time” because of pending State Department approval.
However, PUC Commissioners aren’t convinced that indecision from the federal government should have an impact on how South Dakota runs its own affairs:
“It’s been six years that they’ve had an opportunity, and yes, it could waste a lot of our time and a lot of our money going through this process, but we have a responsibility again to go through the process,” said Commissioner Gary Hanson according to South Dakota Public Broadcasting. “I’ll be very disappointed and aggravated if the federal government chooses to make a decision a year from now or two years from now and they decide not to allow it to cross the border. I won’t be disappointed for Keystone. I’ll be disappointed for all the trouble that all of you folks and the state has gone through in the process.”
Not only does Keystone meet the original conditions for the South Dakota permit, in many cases TransCanada has gone above and beyond what’s required to protect the state’s environment. This includes developing new technologies like Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD), which keeps pipelines a minimum of 25 feet underground and away from waterways and potential damage.
Environmentally and financially, the KXL is a win for South Dakota. In May, the PUC will hold hearings on Keystone’s recertification. If approved, only thing holding back the flood of jobs and wealth from boosting the South Dakota’s economy will be a lack of decision from the federal government.