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Opposition to Keystone 1 Pipeline in South Dakota and huge oil leak, USA

Resistance to Keystone pipeline continues after most recent spill, while South Dakota Public Service Commission warns TransCanada Inc that they could pull the permit allowing them to operate the pipeline in the state

The Keystone Pipeline is a network of pipelines that carry oil from the Canadian tar-sands to refineries in the United States. It is owned and operated by TransCanada Corp., a Canadian company operating pipelines, storage facilities and power generation plants in Canada, the USA and Mexico. The operational sections of the Keystone network were constructed in three phases. Keystone Phase 1, runs from Hardisty, Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, to a storage facility in Illinois. While the Keystone-Cushing Extension runs from a refinery in Steele City, Nebraska to Cushing, Oklahoma; and the Gulf Coast Extension runs from Cushing to refineries in Texas. TransCanada is currently attempting to build a controversial fourth phase of the Keystone network, also known as Keystone XL.

When TransCanada announced its intentions to construct the Keystone Phase 1 pipeline in February 2005, the proposed route ran through  the Brown and Sprink counties of South Dakota. However, when TransCanada presented the proposed route of the pipeline to community members at the Clark Community centre in November of 2005, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and community members were surprised to hear that the pipeline was now proposed to run through Day and Marshall counties [3].  TransCanada had not informed the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission of the proposed route change, and representatives had to field dozens of calls from concerned community members [3]. The route was later changed again in 2006, at the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because of conservation efforts [6].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Opposition to Keystone 1 Pipeline in South Dakota and huge oil leak, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:South Dakota
Location of conflict:Amherst
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Keystone pipeline network is owned and operated by TransCanada Corp, and delivers Canadian tar-sands oil from Alberta, to various refineries throughout the United States. The section of pipeline which is discussed in this case, is Keystone 1, which is the first section of the Keystone Pipeline network to be completed. It became operational on June 30th, 2010, and delivers roughly 591'000 barrels of oil per day from Hardisty, Alberta, to Patoka, Illinois. [7]

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Project area:34,560
Level of Investment for the conflictive project12,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:106
Start of the conflict:10/11/2005
Company names or state enterprises:TransCanada Corp. from Canada
Relevant government actors:South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources
South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
Federal Government of the United States of America (Trump)
Environmental Protection Agency
National Transportation Safety Board
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
International and Finance InstitutionsJP Morgan Chase (JPM) from United States of America
Wells Fargo (WFC) from United States of America
Citibank (C) from United States of America
Bank of Montreal
Alberta Treasury Branches
Bank of America (BofA) from United States of America
Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) from Canada
The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG) from Japan
Barclays Bank from United Kingdom
Caisse Centrale Desjardins du Québec
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) from Canada
Crédit Agricole from France
Credit Suisse (CS) from Switzerland
Deutsche Bank (DB) from Germany
Export Development Canada (EDC) from Canada
HSBC (banking) from Hong Kong SAR, China
Mizuho Bank (Mizuho) from Japan
National Bank of Canada
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) (RBC) from Canada
SMBC Nikko Securities from Japan
TD Bank
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Sierra Club ( (
NOKXL Dakota (
Dakota Rural Action (
Yankton Sioux Tribe (
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (
Rosebud Tribe Sioux Tribe (
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (
WEB - Quality Rural Water Provider
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Environmental Justice has not been served since the pipeline is still in operation. Furthermore, even though the recent spill occurred days before Nebraska voted on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL extension, state regulators chose to grant TransCanada the permit to build and operate the pipeline without considering the recent leak.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Department of Transportation. 2006. "Special Permit: Keystone Pipeline". Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.
[click to view]

Office Of Pipeline Safety. 2017. "Corrective Action Order." Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1]McKenna, Phil. 2017. "Cause of Keystone Pipeline Spill Worries South Dakota Officials as Oil Flow Restarts". Inside Climate News
[click to view]

[2]Axelrod, Joshua. 2017. "S.D. Tar Sands Oil Spill: Bad Omen for Keystone XL Safety". Natural Resource Defense Council.
[click to view]

[3]Arthur, Emily. 2005. "Archive: TransCanada Keystone route to be announced." Aberdeen News.
[click to view]

[4]Mercer, Bob. 2007. "Archive: Landowners lash out at pipeline." Aberdeen News.
[click to view]

[5]Mercer, Bob. 2007. "Archive: Battle lines drawn." Aberdeen News.
[click to view]

[6]Waltman, Scott. 2006. "Archive: Pipeline route changes again". Aberdeen News.
[click to view]

[7]Reuters. 2010. "UPDATE 1-Keystone oil pipeline "halfway" to full capacity." Reuters
[click to view]

[8]Volcovici, Valerie. 2017. "South Dakota Regulators Say They Could Evoke Keystone Permit After Spill." Reuters.
[click to view]

[9]Mercer, Bob. 2007. "Archive: Oil pipeline hearing schedule set". Aberdeen News.
[click to view]

[10] Office Of Pipeline Safety. 2017. "Corrective Action Order." Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.
[click to view]

[11] Hetland, Cara. 2008. "SD approves new pipeline." MRP News.
[click to view]

[12] Cuevas, Mayra & Steve, Almasy. 2017. "Keystone Pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota". CNN
[click to view]

EDM Services, Inc. 1993. "Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Risk Assessment." California State Fire Marshal.
[click to view]

Axelrod, Joshua. 2015. "New Documents Reveal Serious Corrosion Concerns for Tar Sands Pipelines." Natural Resource Defense Council.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:James Joshua Young - [email protected] - Lund Univeristy
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3179
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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