PHOTO Courtesy: Frank Waln
WAGNER, SOUTH DAKOTA — In a determined move, the Yankton Sioux Tribe will square off with Transcanada on January 6, 2014 in order to seek the dismissal of Transcanada’s bid to certify the KXL pipeline to pass through South Dakota. The Tribe will present argument that so much has changed from the findings of fact and conclusions of law and fifty original conditions that were to be met by Transcanada that it now appears to be a new pipeline. The other three tribes will present argument in support of Yankton’s motion.
This past fall of 2014, forty one interveners and four tribes filed interventions against the development of the KXL pipeline at hearings held by the SD Public Utility Commission which is facilitated by three commissioners of that body. In addition to Yankton, the other four tribes are Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Standing Rock. Other interveners are non-profits, citizens and landowners from South Dakota and Nebraska. Many of the South Dakota interveners are part of the NOKXL Dakota which is a powerful coalition of tribes, landowners and non-profits including Dakota Rural Action, which was a intervener when the SD Public Utility Commission certified the KXL pipeline in 2010. Bold Nebraska and other Nebraska landowners were also accepted as interveners. The PUC accepted all interventions including Indigenous Environmental Network, the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, the Sierra Club, 350.org, the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, and the Rosebud Public Utility Commission.
In a December 2014 PUC hearing, the tribes and other parties presented their objections primarily through pre-hearing motions but were not permitted to make arguments during the actual hearing. The PUC hearings appear not to allow oral arguments which is unusual for an administrative body engaged in adjudicatory rulemaking. It remains to be seen whether that will change during the January 6th hearing.
The January 6th hearing will also be the date that parties submit initial discovery requests to other parties seeking information that is relevant to the proceeding.
Following the January 6th date , an agreed upon calendar has been set for additional discovery deadlines throughout the next four months which will conclude with a final hearing the first week of May. The intervention process has brought together a power coalition of interveners who are asserting their right to a due process as citizens of this country. The tribes are asserting their rights to protect treaty land, water and the human right to live safely in a land that they have inhabited for centuries. The land involves not only treaty lands but lands that are considered un-ceded and in an occupation status; and actual lands that are in title status with certain tribes such as Rosebud and Oglala. Yankton has been fighting KXL pipeline since 2008 and will continue to do so until KXL goes away.
Following the January 6th PUC hearing, the NOKXL Dakota coalition will host a Prayer Circle in the Capitol Rotunda to celebrate unity, solidarity, continued opposition and victory of unification which will not concede lands to a foreign entity or compromise the climate for generations to come.