South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem
Published January 16, 2019
WAGNER, S.D. — Members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe listened with disbelief and disappointment as newly sworn-in South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem touched on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline during her State of the State Address on January 8. While the Tribe would like to agree with Governor Noem that South Dakota is in “good shape,” Noem’s conclusory remarks demonstrate that the State continues to remain in jeopardy from the threats posed by the proposed pipeline.
Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through South Dakota, which is currently in legal limbo, seemed a foregone conclusion to Noem. The Tribe took particular offense to Noem’s claims that she wants “the construction of this pipeline to be safe, clean and efficient,” and that her administration “will make sure that people, water and the environment are protected.”
It is the Tribe’s position that the only way to ensure that people, water, and the environment are protected is to prohibit construction of the 36-inch-diameter tar sands pipeline across approximately 316 miles of the State. This is the very reason the Tribe has been entrenched in legal battles against the proposed pipeline in multiple forums, including the South Dakota Supreme Court (which declined to rule on the merits of the Tribe’s claims), over the past several years.
Governor Noem did not represent the Ihanktonwan in her Address. The Tribe’s interests and concerns were completely overlooked.
Noem repeatedly brought up the “next generation” in her Address, but the Tribe found her concern about future generations disingenuous, given her position and statements on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. While the Tribe agrees that topics she addressed such as fiscal discipline, economic development, and agriculture are crucial for South Dakota, these things mean nothing to communities whose water is devastated by pollution from a tar sands spill or whose at-risk women and children are suddenly faced with an onslaught of potential predators at the notoriously dangerous man camps. Noem’s “pro-business approach” needs to take into account the value and quality of human and all life. The Tribe refuses to cater to business at the expense of life. South Dakota should do the same.