Along I-90, small towns lie dormant waiting for warmer weather and a return of tourism to kick into high gear. Visitors headed for Mount Rushmore provide an economic lifeline for these small communities. And the pipeline had begun to emerge as another revenue stream that would keep towns afloat year round.“When TransCanada came along, we were, from a business standpoint, very excited. Because it’s growth, it’s opportunities,” said Jeff Birkeland, a lifelong Murdo, South Dakota, resident and CEO of West Central Electric Cooperative.
Birkeland laments the missed opportunities the pipeline could have brought to the region. He had invested over a decade of his professional life on the project.
Those dreams died on January 20, when President Joe Biden signed an executive order that revoked the building permit for the 1,200-mile project that would have passed though Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.