SB 134: Fixing a Problem With Permitting

Senator Troy Heinert, D-Mission, has brought to the legislature Senate Bill 134. The bill is up for a hearing in Senate Commerce and Energy tomorrow, and needs to pass to ensure time is not wasted on permitting facilities that will never be built.

Currently under state law, any permit application that comes before the Public Utilities Commission for energy conversion facilities, AC/DC conversion facilities, or transmission facilities (like pipelines), must be acted upon within one year of the application filing. This is put in place to ensure facilities do not meet undue delays.

But it also means that South Dakota tends to permit facilities before most other states and long before the Federal Government. While ordinarily this is not a problem, we now find ourselves in a position where certain facilities, like pipelines, become political tools for both Republicans and Democrats. As facilities like pipelines become politicized, approval becomes uncertain.

Where South Dakota really loses in this scenario is when a facility is permitting within the state and then is denied at the Presidential level, like with Keystone XL. South Dakota has had to go through two separate review processes for Keystone XL, all at the expense of the Public Utilities Commission and members of the public who had to get involved. These hearing processes are long, expensive, and for Keystone XL, were done for a pipeline that has now been rejected by the President.

At the end of the day, those landowners crossed by a pipeline like Keystone XL fare the worst. Landowners now have easements across their properties for a rejected pipeline, and some were taken through the courts under eminent domain proceedings, again for a pipeline that has been rejected at the Federal level. Landowners are now left in the lurch in a way that would not have happened if the provisions in SB 143 had been in place before Keystone XL was proposed.

You can see the members of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee here and ask them to support SB 143 here.

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