TransCanada posted an aerial view of the Keystone Pipeline spill area on November 16, 2017. The Canadian firm said about 5,000 barrels, representing 210,000 gallons of oil, spilled near Amherst, South Dakota. Image: TransCanada

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate concerned about massive spill of oil from Keystone Pipeline

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate has once again been impacted by a large spill of oil from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota.

Chairman Dave Flute told CBC News that his people are worried about the effects on water resources on and near the Lake Traverse Reservation. Some 210,000 gallons of crude was spilled from the pipeline at a site just 28 miles west of the tribe's border.

"We are keeping a watchful eye and an open ear," Flute told CBC of the spill near Amherst, which was detected on Thursday morning. "The concern is at a high level, but there is really nothing we can do."

A 2011 spill from the pipeline also impacted the tribe. Concerns about ongoing and future incidents are driving opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, a proposed expansion of the transmission network operated by TransCanada, a Canadian company.

President Donald Trump already granted a critical permit for the controversial project. But the route still needs to be approved in Nebraska, where the Public Utilities Commission is meeting on Monday to announce a decision on TransCanada's application in that state.

Tribes and tribal activists are paying close attention to the announcement. The route crosses portions of the Ponca Trail of Tears, the path which the Ponca Tribe was forced to take in the late 1800s when the federal government forced Chief Standing Bear and his people out of their homelands.

"One way or the other, we're ready to fight," Chairman Larry Wright, Jr. told tribal citizens last week.

In South Dakota, the route comes close to the reservation of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, whose leaders and citizens oppose the pipeline. The Wiconi Un Tipi Camp has been established there in hopes of stopping construction.

Read More on the Story:
Native American tribe bracing for Keystone pipeline leak impact (CBC News November 16, 2017)
Keystone Pipeline Leaks 210,000 Gallons of Oil in South Dakota (The New York Times November 17, 2017)
Keystone pipeline spills 210,000 gallons of oil on eve of permitting decision for TransCanada (The Washington Post November 16, 2017)
Keystone Pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons of oil in Marshall County (The Aberdeen News November 17, 2017)
Keystone Pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota (CNN November 17, 2017)

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