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Keystone opponents drop pipeline permit appeal

BISMARCK -- Keystone Pipeline opponents have dropped their appeal of the crude oil pipeline's North Dakota route permit, saying they're unlikely to prevail.

BISMARCK -- Keystone Pipeline opponents have dropped their appeal of the crude oil pipeline's North Dakota route permit, saying they're unlikely to prevail.

Dakota Resource Council and several members notified the Public Service Commission Monday that they've withdrawn the PSC's route permit for the Canadian crude oil pipeline, which is under construction in eastern North Dakota from near Walhalla to near Cogswell.

The PSC granted the permit Feb. 21.

DRC's lawyers and TransCanada Keystone Pipeline's lawyers filed papers Monday at the Burleigh County Courthouse stipulating that they'd agreed to a dismissal, and South Central District Judge Gail Hagerty has signed the order.

In a prepared statement, DRC said Hagerty's ruling in May denying its request for a stay of the construction "signaled that we had very little chance to win this case. While we continue to stand by the merits of the appeal, we have to use our limited resources where they can be most effective."


Keystone Pipeline Vice President Robert Jones said in a prepared statement that company officials are pleased with the development, saying the PSC's efforts to site the line were "thorough, careful and appropriate."

DRC and several members whose land the line will cross had intervener status in the case.

The landowners are Janie and John Clapp, Merle and Linette Kratochvil and Mark Novak, all of Lankin, N.D., and Ramona Klein, Valley City, N.D.

DRC said it remains convinced the pipeline "will pose undue risk to North Dakota's landowners and natural resources." It also is concerned that a federal permit allows the company to build part of the line with thinner pipe and at higher temperature and pressure than conventional oil pipelines."

Hearing DRC had dropped the appeal, Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark noted that the PSC's order contained 125 findings and placed nearly three dozen conditions on TransCanada.

"The facts are that the PSC afforded everyone their due process rights, following both the letter and spirit of the law."

He agrees with DRC that opponents weren't likely to prevail.

"I suspect that neither the pipeline company nor those who opposed it got everything they wanted, but it is a very thorough and fair order that upholds the public interest," Clark said. "I think this withdrawal is an acknowledgement of that reality."


Jones said construction is progressing on both northern and southern pipe spreads in North Dakota and the company should complete the pipe construction this year and build pump stations next year, with crude oil to be flowing from Alberta tar sands to Chicago area refineries at the end of 2009.

A separate branch to be built later will also deliver oil to a hub in Oklahoma, for delivery to Gulf Coast refineries by the end of 2010.

Cole writes for Forum Communications Co., which owns t­he Herald.

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