With the Keystone XL pipeline officially gone, South Dakotans wonder what comes next

The Keystone XL Pipeline has been a central part of South Dakota politics for over a decade. However, its permanent cancellation changed that.
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:40 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For the last decade, the Keystone XL pipeline has been at the center of political debate in South Dakota, and across the nation.

For many, the pipeline wasn’t just a topic of discussion, but rather something that had a substantial impact on their lives.

“I think it really sunk in last night,” said Remi Bald Eagle about the decision by TC Energy to axe the pipeline project. “I saw on Cheyenne River, a parade of vehicles driving down main street in Eagle Butte, honking their horns and celebrating.”

For many of the activists who had fought the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction for years, the excitement was immeasurable.

For others like Laurie Cox, owner of the Stroppel Hotel in Midland, a livelihood has been afflicted.

“Monthly (revenues) have gone down by 80%, sales tax revenues went down by 60% after the project was canceled in January,” said Cox. “When you look at a small community like Midland, that makes a significant difference.”

The Keystone XL pipeline had seen three presidencies since being announced in 2010, and with that, impassioned protests, as well as pleas for its continuance.

Now, the efforts have come to a screeching halt.

“I understand the money, logistical reasons why they (TC Energy) made this decision,” said Cox. “I would have stood behind them in their fight for as long as it was continuing, and maybe this is the end of the fight, I don’t know. I do want to say, I understand their point, but there were some of us not ready to give up on it yet.”

For the activists who fought against the pipeline, many of them Native Americans effected by the pipeline’s path, the focus now turns to the future.

“We’ve got so many other problems right now, to have a big problem like that taken off our shoulders, its really refreshing,” said Bald Eagle. “(It) helps to build confidence, and now we can tackle the other problems that we have.”

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