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Native Sun News: Senate debate focuses on Keystone XL plan

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler, and Gordon Howie answering questions at the Oglala Lakota College Campus in Kyle SD.

OLC debate focuses on XL Pipeline
Rounds skips another Native American hosted debate
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

KYLE—As November approaches the South Dakota senatorial race is tightening and one particular important issue to Native American voters was addressed last week at political forum hosted by Oglala Lakota College.

On Wednesday of last week three of the four candidates running for the South Dakota senate seat being left by the retirement of longtime lawmaker Sen. Tim Johnson met in Kyle to answer questions about their stance on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. In attendance at the event were Democratic candidate Rick Weiland and Independent candidates Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie.

“I was the first candidate to come out forcefully early on against the Keystone pipeline. They have been trying to promote this as a jobs program for the country. Something that would bring energy security to the country… as something make the country more secure for all this oil that is frankly going to Fort McArthur, Texas and overseas,” said Weiland. “This is a big foreign oil con job on the American people.We need to focus on what we can do as a country to invest in renewable energy.”

Pressler, who served three terms in the Senate, has also come out and opposed the construction of the pipeline.

“It doesn’t move any North Dakota oil and it only moves Canadian oil,” said Pressler. He said claims that the pipeline would move North Dakota oil are “a pure lie.”

Instead of creating the Keystone XL Pipeline, Pressler says that there are a number of pipelines in existence that could be enhanced to move oil from North Dakota and that railroad companies must be accommodating to the needs of South Dakota by hauling grain significantly more of the grain produced by South Farmers.

The race that was initially viewed as a likely loss for Democrats who are in a battle to keep the majority in the Senate has now turned in to a race to watch as both Pressler and Weiland are benefiting from the tailspin that Republican nominee Mike Round is experiencing.

Rounds continues to face harsh criticism in the media for his role in the development of a corruption filled EB-5 program that was initiated under the watch of Round’s during his time as governor of South Dakota. EB-5 was designed to encourage foreign investors to bring money to South Dakota in exchange for certain amenities that would streamline citizenship for the investors. However, missing funds and a lack of transparency from Republican officials in the state has led to outcry from the public and a significant hit to Rounds’ polling numbers. All of the candidates pounced on his “lack of courage” for not facing them in a debate.

On Monday of last week both the Rapid City Journal and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader published stories analyzing the race and concluded that if Weiland dropped out of the race right now, Mike Rounds and Larry Pressler, would be in a virtual deadlock going in to the final stretch of the race.

There has been no indication that Weiland is considering withdrawing and he continues to assert that if elected he will seek out a seat on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee -- a move that was then followed by Pressler claiming to do the same. The largest weekly newspaper in South Dakota, Native Sun News, has endorsed former Senator Pressler and has urged Weiland to drop out of the race.

In television commercials Rounds has given his full support to the construction of the XL Pipeline and called for the end of Obamacare. Gordon Howie also came out in support of the pipeline as Rounds skipped his second Native American hosted debate.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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