The Army Corps of Engineers heard public comment on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline via conference call on September 29. Opponents to the pipeline called in from across the country. Several pipeline union workers called in support. Many voices were heard from Cheyenne River and South Dakota.
The hearing was related to the application of the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP for a permit under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act f 1899 and Section 404 of the Clean Waters Act for the KXL Project, specifically to review impacts to wetlands and waterbodies where the proposed KXL pipeline would cross the Cheyenne River immediately to the southwest of the Cheyenne River reservation and east of Cheyenne River off-reservation trust land.
Over the three-hour conference call comments were heard by many private citizens associated with Cheyenne River. Just a few are Peter Capossela, an attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Richard Gowan, Joseph White Eyes, Alex Dotson, Joye Braun, Remi William Beautiful Bald Eagle, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Candi Brings Plenty, Paul Seamans, Dallas Goldtooth, Donna White Hat and Vivian HighElk.
Caposella was asked to attend on behalf of Standing Rock chairman Mike Faith, Jr. He commented that it is dangerous to push the project forward at a time when tribes are combatting COVID-19 and that the push is a result of presidential politics, saying, “Tribal rights should come before politics.”
He went on to say, “It’s not accurate to suggest that the environmental impacts to the Keystone XL pipeline have been thoroughly properly peer reviewed. That’s not true. And the environmental impact statement that everybody has placed so much credence in was struck down by a federal judge, of course, in Montana. That should be recognized by the Corps of Engineers and that should be included in the Public Notice, that this is a controversial project and that the studies being relied upon this point does not pass legal muster.”
Gowan commented that he is a registered professional engineer with over 40 years’ experience in environmental engineering. As a citizen of West River he opposes the issuance of the permit. “If the Corps of Engineers grants this approval the proposed pipeline crossings will cause many negative impacts; both immediately and cumulatively with such things as aquatic resources, conservation, economics, aesthetics, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife, flood hazard, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion, recreation, water supply, water quality, energy needs, safety, food production and the general needs and welfare of the people.”
Beautiful Bald Eagle spoke in opposition of the pipeline, saying it crosses a water source within three miles of the reservation border and citing the threat of man camps. He noted that the path of the pipeline is near the last known camp of the Miniconjou chief Big Foot before he and his band were massacred at Wounded Knee in 1890. He called consultation with CRST “superficial.”
“I believe the Corps has failed to consider the disproportionate effect of a potential oil spill on my people…[and] on our treaty hunting and fishing rights that we have in our treaty territory, to which the Sioux Tribe still possesses. The Corps failed to justify its decision to grant the permits, even the temporary one, in light of criticism by our tribal experts and scientists that we hired, who question the methods and data the Corps relied on to conclude that this pipeline is safe, and there is little risk of an oil spill. The bottom line is that the Treaty of 1851 and 1868 holds provisions that require the federal government to consult with the tribe in that treaty territory.”
Brings Plenty felt so strongly about the hearing that she called in from a COVID ICU unit at Monument Health to oppose the project. Audibly coughing, she said, “As you can hear, I’m barely breathing and I’m using my air, my breath, to express my concern and my opposition against KXL.”
Public comments can be submitted until October 13, 2020. Mail to South Dakota Regulatory Office, 28563 Powerhouse Rd, Room 118, Pierre, SD 57501; email to: firstname.lastname@example.org; or call in to: (402) 995-2027. The public notice issued on August 14, 2020 and more information on the Project can be found at: www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/Dam-and-Lake-Projects/Oil-and-Gas-Development/KXL/
Public Notice can be found here: usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll7/id/15088