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Backers Challenge Sioux Stand Against Dakota Access Oil Pipeline

Backers of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline now under construction filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against protesters opposed to the project, including leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux Native American Tribe.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners' (ETP) project developer, Dakota Access LLC, took its legal action against David Archambault, tribal chair of the Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border, seeking a restraining order and monetary damages from the protesters.

"We are disappointed that there are those who will put the lives of others in jeopardy," said an ETP spokesperson. "We will continue to put the safety of our workers and those who live in the area as our top priority."

Meanwhile, construction of the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile 30-inch diameter pipeline continues in the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois. Last month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) approved most of the remaining federal permits required for ETP to complete construction (see Shale Daily, July 27).

The pipeline would have a capacity of up to 570,000 b/d to transport crude oil from the Bakken Shale and Three Forks formation to an interconnect with ETP's existing Trunkline Pipeline at Patoka, IL.

The Standing Rock Sioux last month sued federal regulators for approving the Dakota Access project, which would cross the Missouri River upstream from the reservation. The tribe is alleging that the pipeline will disturb sacred Native American sites and adversely affect drinking water for residents of the reservation and millions of others downstream.

Dakota Access attorneys alleged in their court filing that workers have been threatened, rocks and bottles have been thrown, and Archambault excused tribal employees from work last week to protest the pipeline's ongoing construction.

The tribal chair told local news media he will continue to be arrested and others will carry out acts of civil disobedience to disrupt the pipeline work. On Monday, sheriff's deputies and about 30 North Dakota Highway Patrol troopers were at the protest site on the reservation.

The protesters are causing the pipeline project to "lose goodwill among its customers" and delays are "diminishing its opportunity to complete construction of the pipeline's water crossing before permits expire," Dakota Access attorneys allege in their court filing.

After several fits and starts in the first half of this year, Iowa regulators in June finally authorized ETP to start construction. It was the fourth and final Midwest state needed for the project, which would ship Bakken crude oil to markets along the East and Gulf coasts (see Shale DailyJune 7).

The Iowa Utilities Board action authorized Dakota Access Pipeline to start construction activity outside the pre-construction notice (PCN) areas along the route, which crosses the state diagonally from the northwest to southeast corners. PCN areas are parts of the route that the USACE has subsequently approved.

"We are constructing this pipeline in accordance with applicable laws, and the local, state and federal permits and approvals we have received," said the ETP spokesperson, adding that the regional project has national benefits.

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