- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - President Barack Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline Friday drew a rebuke from South Dakota’s congressional delegation but celebration from an environmental group that has fought the project’s path through the state.

The state Public Utilities Commission’s review of the portion of the pipeline that would run through South Dakota will continue despite the Obama administration’s rejection of TransCanada Corp.’s application to construct the project.

After Obama said he didn’t think the project was in the national interest, Republican politicians in South Dakota were quick to criticize him.

“This president clearly worships at the altar of climate change,” U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds told The Associated Press. “I’d much rather be buying oil from our friends in North Dakota and our friends in Canada than the Iranians, and I think this president and this secretary of state are going to have a lot of explaining to do.”

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in a statement that oil will still be produced in Canada and carried by rail or pipeline elsewhere.

TransCanada’s proposed pipeline would carry more than 800,000 barrels of Canadian crude a day to refineries along the Gulf Coast. It would move about 100,000 barrels of oil daily from the western North Dakota oil patch.

The PUC held hearings during the summer in its review of whether to approve - for the second time in five years - the construction of Keystone’s pipeline through South Dakota.

The project prompted opposition from Native American tribes, some landowners and environmental groups who were concerned the pipeline would contaminate water supplies and contribute to pollution.

“Never again will a company such as TransCanada so seriously underestimate the power of grassroots opposition,” Paul Seamans, a member of opposition group Dakota Rural Action, said in a statement. “Thank you President Obama. Let the celebrations begin.”

PUC Chairman Chris Nelson said the panel’s deliberations about the project are a separate process under state law from decision-making at the federal level and elsewhere. Nelson said the commission could decide before the end of the year.

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