TransCanada is playing the heavy again, threatening to move a couple pump stations for its proposed Keystone XL pipeline out of South Dakota. The multi-billion-loonie foreign oil company is doing what corporations do and throwing a fit over the South Dakota Legislature's move to cut excise tax refunds on construction projects over $500 million. This measure helps balance our state budget, but it also means TransCanada's tax refund on the project in South Dakota will be $20 million smaller.
Now I would think that moving a big noisy industrial facility that would put an enormous strain on our local electrical grid somewhere else would be a plus. But then I don't measure the general welfare strictly in terms of tax revenue. Those pumping stations will generate tax revenue for school districts and counties, so some folks in Tripp and Harding counties are anxious to see even more TransCanada work in their backyards.
But hang on, TransCanada: we've got Dusty Johnson on line 1:
The fact that TransCanada is examining facilities in the pipeline as a way to cut costs caught the interest of PUC Chairman Dusty Johnson. He noted that the new law was a compromise and the company shared its concerns about pipelines being eliminated from the excise tax.
TransCanada cannot move facilities or the pipeline route without the PUC’s permission, Johnson said. The company told commissioners that pump stations were placed at those sites for safety reasons, he said.
“I would view any attempt to move those pump stations for purely economical reasons with incredible skepticism,” he said.
“They would have a pretty substantial burden of proof to me that moving pump stations was in the best interest of the people of South Dakota” [Melanie Brandert, "New Law Sparks Concern for Tripp County's Pipeline Plans," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2010.04.01].
That's TransCanada: profits over safety and civic responsibility.
Local governments eager to cash in on the promised flow of property tax and gross receipts tax revenue from the Keystone XL pipeline should perhaps look at the experience of local governments in East River with TransCanada. The oily Canadians are still haggling with Marshall County over how much they ought to pay for tearing up 76 miles of county roads while building the Keystone pipeline last year.
In the unlikely event that TransCanada does move its pumping stations, Tripp and Harding, check history, and consider yourselves lucky.
Read more: check out TransCanada's PDF flyer on its Keystone XL pumping stations.