ND pipeline developer eyes ‘prompt resumption’ of construction

ND pipeline developer eyes ‘prompt resumption’ of construction

The company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline on Tuesday said it would resume construction activities in North Dakota after a federal court refused a tribal request to block the project there. 

“In light of Sunday’s court decision, Dakota Access looks forward to a prompt resumption of construction activities east and west of Lake Oahe on private land,” Energy Transfer Partners said in a Tuesday statement. 

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“We reiterate our commitment to protect cultural resources, the environment and public safety.”

The move comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction on construction work in the region, arguing the pipeline so threatens cultural sites there that a court needs to block it while a lawsuit against the project moves forward. The tribe has vowed to continue fighting the project.

A three-judge panel also lifted an administrative hold on construction in North Dakota, opening the door to more work on the pipeline. A company lawyer told the court last week that it would resume construction if the judges ruled against the tribe’s request. 

Construction on a crucial stretch of the pipeline’s route — near a crossing beneath the Missouri River — is still on hold, however, because the federal government hasn’t granted the easement necessary for it to move forward.

That easement is pending a federal assessment of the overall Dakota Access permitting process, though both pipeline developers and federal lawyers expect the easement to come within weeks. 

In its statement, Energy Partners also asked for federal law enforcement agencies to help police protests against the pipeline in North Dakota. Twenty-seven people were arrested during protests at two construction sites on Monday.

“We echo the urgings of the North Dakota governor, its two senators, its congressman and local enforcement officials that any protests be undertaken in a peaceful and law abiding manner,” Energy Transfer said. 

“All construction efforts will be undertaken in close coordination with state and local law enforcement officials, and we are hopeful their law enforcement efforts will be supplemented by those of the federal government.”