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South Dakota committee accept pipeline bills

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According to Kota TV News, a legislative panel has approved Governor Kristi Noem’s bills to prepare for potential protests over the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

At the Legislative 11th hour, the two bills proposed by Noem ‘sailed’ through a joint House Senate committee despite opposition from tribal leaders, civil libertarians and some legislators who questioned the rushed nature of the process, reports Kota TV News.

The bills would require pipeline operators to post bond up to $20 million (€17.8 million) to offset potential law enforcement costs that could arise from expected protests against the XL pipeline.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom told Kota TV News that, "The cities and counties are concerned about the cost of the potential protests in South Dakota related to the Keystone XL pipeline and that's based largely on experiences form North Dakota with the Dakota Access Pipeline protest."

The Keystone XL pipeline would run from Canadian oil fields to Nebraska and cut through seven South Dakota counties. However with the proposed bills, construction could be prolonged because of potential protests.

"As I understand the timeline, and that is subject to change, it's two construction seasons, the summer of 2019 and the summer of 2020," said Thom. "So it's a fairly long event in South Dakota."

Kota TV News reports that tribal leaders from Crow Creek, Cheyenne River and others, have ‘blasted’ the bills.

"The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is totally opposed to the two bills," said Rosebud President Rodney Bordeaux.

"We were not consulted. And if this Keystone XL Pipeline is allowed through our Treaty Territories, and if I'm out there protesting, will I be arrested? (Even with) the peaceful protests that we want to do, it can be law enforcement's word against ours and they can probably arrest us for being there," added Rodney.

Noem’s office informed Kota TV News that the bills do not place restrictions on peaceful protest or assembly.