Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

S Dakota's Public Utilities Commission Withholding Landowners List During Keystone Hearings

Landowner list in pipeline case sought
By Terry Woster
Published: August 8, 2007

PIERRE – South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission will hear arguments later this month on a request to make public the names of landowners with property along the route of a proposed crude-oil pipeline.

That list is among the few remaining confidential items in the files involved in TransCanada Keystone Pipeline’s request for a siting permit for the 1,800-mile line proposed from Hardesty, Alberta to Patoka, Ill. About 200 miles of the line pass through South Dakota.

Curt Hohn, general manager of WEB Water, requested the list in an Aug. 4 letter to the commission.

He called the list central to the permit application.

Without the list, landowners and concerned citizens have no way of knowing what land is crossed and have no way of communicating with each other “to share information, share legal expense and otherwise respond to a project that will most definitely impact their community,” he wrote.

The list was discussed during a June meeting, although no action was taken to open it. A lawyer for TransCanada described the document at that meeting as 52 pages of names, home, cell and work telephone numbers and tracts of land.

Kara Semmler, staff lawyer for the PUC, said Hohn’s letter essentially is a challenge to the confidential status of the landowner list.

The issue will be placed on the commission’s Aug. 28 agenda. Hohn, the pipeline company and others will have an opportunity to argue their cases, and the commissioners will be responsible for deciding whether the list should be open or confidential, Semmler said.

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