Keystone XL developer prepares for construction in Montana and South Dakota

Keystone XL is a step closer to reality in the northern part of the U.S.

TransCanada Corp., developer of the controversial oil pipeline has notified one Native American tribal chairman the firm will start moving materials and getting ready for the start of construction at sites in Montana and South Dakota.

The letter was sent to Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe in South Dakota whose response was terse.

“We will be waiting.”

TransCanada indicated in the letter that work on the $8 billion project will begin sometime this month and continue through the fall. The 1,179-mile pipeline is slated to carry up to 830,000  barrels a day of Canadian crude through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska where it will join other lines carrying oil to Oklahoma and eventually to Gulf Coast refineries.

TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said in an email that the preparatory work will ramp up over the year to position TransCanada for construction in 2019. He said it would include moving pipe and equipment to start clearing activities to prepare for getting final permits and approvals for construction.

But in Nebraska, there are legal issues. A lawsuit has been filed challenging the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s decision approving a route through the state.

And in Montana, there is a separate federal lawsuit that was filed by Montana landowners and environmental groups. They are trying to overturn the President’s decision to grant a presidential permit for the project.


South Dakota’s Supreme Court in June dismissed an appeal from pipeline opponents — including the Cheyenne River Sioux — of a judge’s decision last year upholding regulators’ approval for the pipeline to cross the state.