Guns A Blazing

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SD PUC) is composed of three members—Chairman Gary Hanson, Vice-Chairman Chris Nelson and Commissioner Kristie Fiegen— all elected by the registered voters.

Voters put elected officials on every level into their positions to serve the public. These are people just like you and I who are elected as public servants. We put our trust in their ability to make decisions on our behalf. We expect them to work for the best interests of South Dakota and all of us who live here.

Currently, the SD PUC is charged with oversight of the recertification process for the permit which will allow TransCanada to construct their Keystone XL pipeline through our state. In October 2014, the PUC granted party status as interveners for forty two applicants.

I did listen to the live broadcast of the December 9, 2014 meeting. The following verbatim remarks were made by Chairman Hanson after he listened to some attorneys and interveners talk about how they believed more time was needed to prepare their cases.

“My fellow commissioners may have a different opinion. My thought on that is that we certainly want to make certain that everyone has an opportunity to participate fully. Also, though, for the past two years we have been reading about the potential for this hearing to take place. It’s not a surprise by any means. And I am, as Chairman, not going to slow up this process on a basis that gee whiz we don’t have enough time to take a look at some of this information. The fact is that numerous folks who are parties to this have stated in the media that they’re going to come with—obviously didn’t say this, but—guns a blazing. They’re going to be prepared, they’re going to have everything ready to go and now after at least a year and a half of hearing that we’re all ready to go, we’ve got lots of things we’re going to present—I’m not going to allow people to slow up this process just for the purpose of slowing it up. There has to be good reasons and good presentations to convince me that, there’s nothing [that’s] a surprise that this is come about and having heard repeatedly that parties are ready to go, it really surprises me now to hear that we need time to look at these things. I’m not going to listen to responses from that right now, I’ve heard the presentations . . . I stand by my statement and I think everyone fully has seen in the news media, statements by parties stating that they are ready to go. This is not new, this is not a surprise to anyone.”

The Keystone XL pipeline will affect all of us if it is built. The construction of this pipeline will change South Dakota forever. South Dakota’s PUC must show patience to the public they serve. As a public servants they must refrain from scolding interveners or accusing them of saying things they didn’t actually say.

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