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South Dakota Governor Proposes Anti-Pipeline Protest Legislation

South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, has proposed legislation seeking to uncover where out-of-state funds for pipeline protests come from and “cut them off at the source,” the Associated Press reports, adding Republican Noem also said she would set up a fund for extraordinary costs for law enforcement that usually accompany pipeline protests.

“I’m a supporter of property rights, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We should celebrate differences of opinion. But here in South Dakota, we will have the rule of law, because rioters do not control economic development in our state,” Noem said.

In response to the news, the policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota said such legislation may infringe of free speech.

The legislation has been triggered by the problems of neighbor North Dakota, which had to deal with a months-long protest against the Dakota Access pipeline back in 2016 and this cost the state tens of millions of dollars.

North Dakota is the site of another controversial pipeline, the Keystone XL, which has had its fair share of protests and legal challenges. Last November, the project got the green light from a Montana judge to start doing some preliminary work while the State Department reviewed its original assessment of the environmental impacts of the project, as ordered by the court.

Yet the same judge blocked all other activities around Keystone XL such as setting up worker camps along the route of the pipeline, which means the start of construction will once again be delayed even if TransCanada is lucky enough to emerge as the victor in the legal battle.

The 830,000 bpd, US$8-billion pipeline will run from the Albertan oil sands through Montana and South Dakota, ending in Nebraska, where it would connect to the existing pipeline network that goes on to the Gulf Coast. Yet like Dakota Access, Keystone XL has become a focal point for environmentalists arguing there are already more than enough oil pipelines in the United States and Canada.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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