Whether for or against the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, everyone agrees that safety and responsibility are two key components to making this project a success for TransCanada and South Dakotans.
But a proposal by the South Dakota Senate Democratic leader might be a case of too little, too late for ensuring total protection.
Sen. Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot, plans to ask the South Dakota Legislature to require a $500 million bond be posted by any company building a large oil pipeline. The bond would cover damage in case of a leak.
We've all seen the devastating effects of massive oil spills - the Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska in 1989 and the BP Gulf Coast oil spill of 2010 being among the most infamous spills in U.S. history. While spills and leaks of those magnitudes are rare, smaller leaks and spills are not uncommon. And those spills add up. They are dangerous, dirty and expensive.
A leak from the Keystone XL, which will cut through South Dakota on its Canada-to-Gulf-Coast path, would be devastating in a state so reliant on land and the environment. Holding TransCanada to high standards makes a lot of sense.
However, shouldn't some of these details have been worked out before South Dakota invited the Keystone to cut through the state? It doesn't seem fair to TransCanada to have them put their route together, and then put a nine-figure caveat on the deal.
Surely our leaders had to have considered what would happen here in the event of a leak or spill or some such catastrophe. Is the oil company on the hook for cleaning up in a quick and cost-effective manner?
Frerichs cites Nebraska as having already put forth a similar bonding requirement on the Keystone XL pipeline. Not only that, but the Cornhusker State also convinced TransCanada to change its route.
Sounds to us like Nebraska is just better at negotiations.
Five hundred million dollars likely won't bother TransCanada, and the bonding is a good idea. It sure would have been nice had this been worked out on the front end of the deal.