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ETP Not Caving on Pleas to Halt Dakota Access Construction

Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) said Tuesday it was not halting construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline LLC system in North Dakota, countering a statement reportedly by the Obama administration indicating that building would be voluntarily halted.

According to an ETP spokesperson, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) on Monday said construction of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline through four upper Midwest states had been voluntarily halted. The statement “was a mistake and the Army Corps intends to rescind it," the spokesperson said.

Contractors for Dakota Access have now completed the pipeline on each side of Lake Oahe, a dam-created body of water in the Missouri River in south-central North Dakota. The dam is less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation, which is attempting to halt the massive infrastructure project.

"Dakota Access is currently mobilizing horizontal drilling equipment to the drill hox site in preparation for the tunneling under Lake Oahe," ETP’s spokesperson said. The company “expects that its mobilization of equipment will be completed over the next two weeks and that it will commence drilling activities upon completion of the mobilization."

The Corps previously granted an easement to tunnel under the lake. However, in an eleventh-hour move by the Obama administration, the permit was pulled and is now being re-reviewed by the Corps (see Shale Daily, Sept. 13; Sept. 9). Subsequently, environmental activist groups and the Standing Rock Sioux have turned the project into a national demonstration against alleged mistreatment of Native American tribes by various government agencies.

In the latest call for civil disobedience to plead the Sioux cause, thousands of protesters are scheduled to appear at Corps offices across the nation on Nov. 15, to urge construction be halted, even though the pipeline is more than 70% completed.

"The 'Day of Action' has been planned in response to a call from Native American leaders at Standing Rock with the Indigenous Environmental Network, Honor the Earth, and other groups following escalated responses from police and national guard troops," a spokesperson for the opposition groups said on Monday.

More than 400 protesters have been arrested over the past six weeks. Late last month, the protesters began targeting the consortium of lenders for the pipeline project, which has been approved by four states, North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois (see Shale DailyMay 2). One lender, Norway-based DNB, said it would reconsider its participation in the financing if concerns raised by the tribes are not addressed.

On Monday the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) also demanded that Citibank halt further loan disbursements for the pipeline and ensure that ETP immediately halts construction. RAN wants "all outstanding issues" resolved to the full satisfaction of the Sioux tribe.

Further complicating matters, landowners in Iowa where the pipeline construction is nearing completion are filing complaints with the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) criticizing the construction practices used in placing the pipeline across their farms. The IUB took longer than the other three states to approve the Dakota Access plans and placed many contingencies on its eventual approval (see Shale DailyJune 7).

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