photo credit (NOKXL banner and Senators Heinart, Killer and Chairman Sazue): Black Hills Chapter Member, Tatyana Novikova
On March 8th, approximately 70 attendees participated in the No KXL Rally in Pierre, South Dakota which was hosted by Dakota Rural Action (DRA) in response to a scheduled hearing the same afternoon of DRA -vs- South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on the appeal of their decision to recertify the Keystone XL pipeline state permit. DRA was joined by Yankton, and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes and several individual intervenors in this appeal.
Speakers very passionately addressed the crowd speaking about protecting the water, tribal and treaty rights, stopping foreign companies from stealing South Dakota citizens land via eminent domain, and support from our State Senators trying to stop KXL on a state level in Pierre. Speakers included; water protectors, pipeline fighters from Nebraska, Brandon Sazue Tribal Chairman from Crow Creek Reservation, Remi Bald Eagle representative from Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Senators Kevin Killer (Pine Ridge) and Troy Heinert (Mission), Chairperson of DRA John Harter, and DRA Board Member Paul Seaman.
Senators Killer and Heinart both expressed to the crowd, they are in Pierre every day fighting to stop the black snake in our state, and they are here for the people. Heinart stated “You are not alone, there are several of us here fighting this” Killer reiterated that support and stated “Everything that happened up at Dakota Access that was a pre-season.”
The message of unity among leaders was this is not just a tribal issue, everyone drinks water and the State of South Dakota needs to wake up!
Remi Bald Eagle, said “I look across the crowd here, this is a prime example of this is not a tribal issue. This issue transcends who we are, but it doesn't transcend what we are, we are human beings, we all have our lives that are dependent on water” “The message from my tribe today is South Dakota needs to wake up!”
Brandon Sazue said, “It's a human thing, it doesn't matter what color you are it matters if you drink water or not for human beings for animals for life as we know it. We watch the news every day and look out there and see what is going on in the world, this is going to be Armageddon for all of us that's why everybody in South Dakota needs to wake up we all drink water”
The afternoon hearing was standing room only, attorneys from Cheyenne River and Yankton Sioux Tribes, Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, private citizen intervenors, and Dakota Rural Action presented further evidence to support the litigation on how the PUC prematurely approved the Keystone KXL Pipeline without taking factual evidence into account.
Jennifer Baker, attorney for the Yankton Sioux Tribe responded impeccably to Judge Brown’s question about the Tribe being 40 miles away from the pipeline location. “Yankton Tribal members have inherent and local knowledge of the land and should be included in the Keystone consultation." The community of Marty, SD is only two miles from the Missouri River.
In 2010 Keystone XL gained its original state permit from the SD PUC. This permit included 50 conditions the pipeline needed to meet. It also required that construction start within 4 years. When that didn’t happen they came back to the PUC in 2015 for a recertification of that permit. The PUC granted the recertification even after President Obama denied the Presidential permit which was implied in one of the original conditions. DRA and the other parties appealed this PUC decision, which was heard on March 8th.
DRA and the parties believe Keystone XL should have been required to show they were complying with the conditions listed in the original permit. Keystone XL failed to present evidence proving compliance for most of the conditions.
Judge Brown is expected to make a decision in this case in the near future.
This issue is very complex, if you are interested in learning more please contact us.