US Army to grant final permit for controversial Dakota pipeline -court filing

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By Valerie Volcovici and Ernest Scheyder | WASHINGTON/HOUSTON

WASHINGTON/HOUSTON The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers will grant the final easement needed to finish the
controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a court
filing Tuesday.

The line had been delayed for several months after protests
from Native American tribes and climate activists. The $3.8
billion line, which is being built by Energy Transfer Partners
, needed a final permit to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a
reservoir that is part of the Missouri River.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is adjacent
to the line’s route, has said it will fight the decision. The Army Corps had previously stated that it would undertake further
environmental review of the project. The tribe was not
immediately available for comment.

The 1,170-mile (1,885 km) line will bring crude oil from
North Dakota’s Bakken shale region to Patoka, Illinois, and from
there connect to the Gulf of Mexico, where many U.S. refineries
are located.

The tribe had fought the line for months, fearing
contamination of their drinking water and damage to sacred sites
on their land. This one-mile stretch under the river was the
last uncompleted section of the line; the pipeline is expected
to be operational late in the second quarter.

“The discord we have seen regarding the Dakota Access
Pipeline doesn’t serve the tribe, the company, the Corps or any
of the other stakeholders involved. Now, we all need to work
together to ensure people and communities rebuild trust and
peacefully resolve their differences,” said John Hoeven,
Republican senator from North Dakota, in a statement.

Numerous activists who have been protesting in North Dakota
have vowed to stay, although the primary protest camp is located
on a flood plain on Army Corps land and is in the process of
being cleared.

Their protests, along with those of climate activists,
resulted in the Obama administration’s decision to delay a final
permit that would allow construction under the Missouri River.
It also ordered an environmental assessment, but that will not be conducted following Tuesday’s decision.

A memo dated Tuesday from Douglas Lamont, a senior official
with the Army’s Civil Works department, said that he believes
there is “no cause for completing any additional environmental
analysis,” in part because of previous assessments by the Corps
in 2016.

The Army informed the chairs and ranking members of the
House Natural Resources and Senate Energy & Natural Resources
committees of their intent in a letter on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump, days after being sworn in, issued an
executive order directing the U.S. Army Corps to smooth the path
to finishing the line. Tuesday’s filing was made in U.S.
District Court in Washington D.C.

Shares of Energy Transfer Partners were down before the
news. The stock finished up 20 cents to $39.60 a share.



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