Four years after Keystone XL was first proposed, the battle lines remain drawn over the pipeline that would cut a path through Western South Dakota.
After a period of quiet, tensions between supporters and critics of Keystone were rekindled this month by a State Department report that found no significant environmental risk from the pipeline, which would pump crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to the east Texas coast.
For South Dakota's Republican congressional leaders, Rep. Kristi Noem and Sen. John Thune, the findings are a clear green light for a project they believe has been stonewalled for years by President Obama.
"When the State Department says there will be little environmental impact from this, I think that's pretty compelling," Thune said in a group call with reporters on Wednesday.
But those views have put the Republican pair at odds with a few of their traditional allies: South Dakota ranchers.
Dwayne Vig, 71, a cattle rancher near Mud Butte in Meade County, says while he's no Obama fan, he is even less enthused about TransCanada's pipeline.
Vig and his wife, along with about 140 South Dakota property owners, have signed easements to allow the Canadian company to build the pipeline. When completed, the 36-inch-diameter line will stretch for a half-mile across the couple's 13,500-acre property.
But the pair never wanted to sign an easement with the company. The couple feared they would be taken to court by TransCanada under eminent domain, a law that allows land to be acquired if it is perceived as being in the national interest.
Vig banded together with about 75 other affected property owners and negotiated a collective deal with TransCanada — better than the company's first offer, but still not a deal he ever wished to make.
Despite what the environmental report says, he fears ecological and economic damage to his property from leaks and spills. He points to TransCanada's other pipeline in eastern South Dakota, which had 12 spills in its first year of operation.
"And I have just been reading some of the most unpleasant chemicals in the world will be in that pipe," he said.
Vig says he is disappointed that Thune and Noem haven't stood up for the rights of rural property owners.
"They want to push this agenda with these jobs and look good," he said. "But they are not ranchers. I know John comes from a ranching family, but he's not a rancher."
Vig said that not only are the jobs figures inflated, he agrees with Obama that most will be short-term, lasting only two years during construction. He also believes most of those construction jobs will go to out-of-state union workers.
But Noem disputes that. From the estimates she has heard, she believes the pipeline will create about 20,000 jobs across the country, a portion of them local, and will include permanent positions for maintaining the pipeline.
Noem added that while she took environmental concerns seriously, she stood by the findings of the latest State Department report that there was minimal risk.
"Those are valid concerns, and that's why I believe that all the environmental studies that have gone forward are important," she said.
John Harter, 49, a rancher in Winner in south-central South Dakota, doesn't put much stock in the latest report.
"I think the people that done the job need to get a new job," he said. "It's so full of misinformation it's unreal."
Unlike Vig, Harter was unable to reach an amiable deal with TransCanada. He was originally part of the group of landowners negotiating with the company, but he wanted additional safety features on his land, like thicker pipe walls.
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The company declined and acquired an easement on his land through eminent domain.
Harter said if built, any spills from the pipeline threaten to contaminate the well water on his 280-acre property as well as the supply for Colome, a nearby town of 300.
Harter has wider concerns, however. He believes the pipeline should have been routed away from the Ogallala Aquifer, a shallow water table that extends for 174,000 square miles beneath the Great Plains.
He points to a rupture in Michigan that is estimated to have dumped 877,000 gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. By 2012, the clean-up cost neared $800 million.
"How do they think they are going to clean it up in an aquifer system?" Harter said.
He said that Thune and Noem appear to be ignoring the risk to the state's major economic drivers — agriculture and tourism — and his constitutional rights as a property holder.
"Being a registered Republican, I feel sold out by my own party," he said.
Harter believed the pair are more interested in the concerns of their political donors.
According to OpenSecrets.org, a nonprofit agency that tracks political donations, oil and gas companies donated $95,501 of the $2.8 million that Noem raised between 2011 and 2012. The industry donated $177,000 of the $12.2 million that Thune raised between 2007 and 2012.
But not every property owner is upset about the pipeline.
Bob Beck, a rancher who will host about two miles of pipeline on 2,500 acres of his property near Dallas in Tripp County, said he thought it was an essential piece of infrastructure to get Canadian oil to the U.S.
Beck was also a member of the group negotiating with TransCanada.
"I felt they treated us fairly," he said.
While Beck had some outstanding concerns about the amount of money the company was setting aside for reclamation (repairing the ground after the pipeline's construction), he largely felt the environmental concerns were under control.
"The way they have to put these pipelines in, they have to be right," he said. "Otherwise the federal government will not allow them to build them."
That decision now rests in the hands of the Obama Administration, which will review the environmental report.
Regardless of what happens, at least one South Dakota rancher says he expected more from his elected officials.
"I think they should have stood up a lot more for us," Vig said. "I can't say 'sell out,' that's kind of a strong term, but I think they should have stood up."
[This story has been changed to reflect two clarifications. U.S. Rep Kristi Noem estimates the pipeline will create 20,000 jobs nationally. An oil spill in Michigan in 2010 is estimated to have dumped 877,000 gallons into the Kalamazoo River.]