- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Opponents in South Dakota of a proposed $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil east say they worry it could contaminate water supplies and farmland, and harm habitat for wildlife, including endangered species.

South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday began a two-week hearing on whether to permit the Dakota Access Pipeline. Regulators rejected a request from the Yankton Sioux and Rosebud Sioux tribes to delay the hearing so an environmental study could be done, saying a decision needs to be made by Dec. 15 under state law. However, such a study could be required as a condition of construction, the Argus Leader reported (https://argusne.ws/1O7F8So ).

“The environment is one of my top concerns,” Commissioner Gary Hanson said.

The 1,130-mile Dakota Access Pipeline proposed by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners would move at least 450,000 barrels of North Dakota crude daily through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Patoka, Illinois, where shippers can access Midwest and Gulf Coast markets.

Landowner attorney Glenn Boomsma told South Dakota regulators that his clients fear devaluation of their property. Rosebud Sioux spokesman Matt Rappold said the tribe worries pipeline construction or a pipeline spill would impact wildlife.

“The entire pipeline route crosses over some of the most pristine habitat left for the whooping crane,” he said.

Energy Transfer Partners attorney Brett Koenecke said the company will present witnesses during the hearing to address safety concerns, the environment and economic impacts. The company has said the project will create up to 12,000 temporary jobs for welders, mechanics, pipefitters and heavy equipment operators, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into local economies.

“The Dakota Access pipeline is a solid, sound project designed to bring U.S. crude to market,” Koenecke said.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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