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PUC approves Dakota Access Pipeline permit

On Nov. 30, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission met to discuss Dakota Access Pipeline’s permit.

The three-member commission of PUC chairman Chris Nelson, acting commissioner Rich Sattgast and commissioner Gary Hanson voted to approve with conditions a siting permit from Dakota Access. Nelson and Sattgast voted in favor; Hanson voted against. Sattgast was appointed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard after PUC commissioner Kristie Fiegen disqualified herself from participating in the docket in January, citing a familial relationship with a landowner along the pipeline route.

The 2.5-hour meeting was held in Pierre and broadcast on the PUC’s website. To hear the meeting in its entirety, go to and click on “Commission Actions,” then “Commission Meeting Archives” and “2015.” The recording is listed under the Nov. 30 meeting.

Nelson made the motion to approve the permit, but then amended his motion with 17 pages of conditions and four pages of additional amendments. Those documents are also available on the PUC website.

“In granting the permit, the majority of the commission found that Dakota Access properly established their right under state law for the permit. To protect the rights of landowners more than 50 conditions were attached to the permit,” Nelson said. “If this pipeline is constructed, it is imperative and non-negotiable that construction and reclamation be conducted in a manner that allows farmers and ranchers impacted by the pipeline to very quickly get back to their business of producing food for the world in a manner uninhibited by the pipeline.”

During the meeting, Nelson strongly emphasized the importance of reclamation and the ability for farmers and ranchers to get back to work without much disruption.

Linda Goulet, a landowner west of Tea opposed to the pipeline, said she felt like her and her family’s voices had been heard by the commission. However, she was disappointed with the decision and for the number of amendments needed to pass the permit.

“I appreciate the input of those amendments, but then there’s just the fact that they needed that many amendments to clarify different things and charge Dakota Access with fulfilling would lean to the point that maybe they should have been brought back to the drawing board and taken care of those things with the initial application from the pipeline and put that on their shoulders as their responsibility prior to granting the thing rather than looking at them to count on doing it after the fact,” Goulet said.

Pipeline opponent Peggy Hoogestraat of Chancellor listened to the PUC meeting online and says she was not surprised by the decision but she was disappointed.

“I do feel with the conversation and the discussion that were made throughout the hearing …what DRA members and landowners were trying to inform the citizens of, I do believe the commissioners heard our concerns,” Hoogestraat said.

Both Hoogestraat and Goulet appreciated the comments made by Hanson in support of landowners.

“I was thankful that Gary Hanson showed his concerns to protect our South Dakota citizens and I appreciated that,” Hoogestraat said.

“Our voices were heard, certainly by Commissioner Hanson, and the points he made yesterday were all very valid and very real,” Goulet said.

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