The $3.8 million Dakota Access Pipeline would stretch from the Bakken formation to Patoka, Illinois. Energy Transfer Partners wants to have it operating by the end of 2016.
About 271 miles of the 1,134-mile pipeline would be in eastern South Dakota. The state Public Utilities Commission has scheduled public hearings on Jan. 21 in Bowdle and Redfield, and on Jan. 22 in Iroquois and Sioux Falls. The PUC won't make a decision on a construction permit for the pipeline until late next year.
Charlie Hoffman, a rancher and former Republican state legislator, supports the pipeline project. Rail cars that could be filled with cattle or crops are now moving North Dakota oil instead, he told the Argus Leader newspaper.
"I'd much rather have that crude running through a pipeline than filling up rail cars," Hoffman said.
Some people worry about the impact to land values and possible harm to the environment. Attorney Mark Meierhenry, who often represents landowners in eminent domain cases, told the Argus Leader that how much landowners should be paid for allowing the pipeline to cross their land also should be part of the debate.
"What is the fair market value when somebody is running a business on and through your land?" he said.