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Union, Anti-Fossil Fuel Advocates Square Off Over Dakota Access

The Labors' International Union of North America (LiUNA) and a newly created activist group, Bold Iowa, are bumping heads over the four-state, nearly 1,200-mile Dakota Access oil pipeline that is now under construction.

LiUNA members turned out in force in Iowa, where the state regulatory commission and a district court judge have rejected last-minute attempts to slow construction of the $3.7 billion Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) project to bring North Dakota's Bakken Shale crude oil to eastern and Gulf Coast market hubs in Illinois.

An offshoot of the Bold Nebraska group that opposed TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline, Bold Iowa on Wednesday held a civil disobedience training session prior to what it called an afternoon of "direct action" to oppose the Dakota Access project.

Early in August, media reports from Newton, IA, identified at least three fires that scorched heavy equipment being used to build the Bakken oil pipeline, which investigators initially labeled as arson. However, Dakota Access Pipeline LLC officials said the incidents have not slowed construction. A county sheriff investigated two fires that caused an estimated $1 million in damage to construction equipment.

There have been reports of violence and intimidation at the protest campground that has been occupied for several weeks in south-central North Dakota near the border with South Dakota and the Standing Rock Sioux Native American Tribe's reservation (see Shale DailyAug. 26). The Sioux allege that their ancestral lands and culturally important landscapes are at risk.

A labor-supported group, the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, has released a detailed account of court documents outlining the review process used for the pipeline project, noting that the Sioux tribe has steadily refused to participate. The report cited a long process covering more than two years since ETP submitted its first proposals for Dakota Access.

During the permitting process, the alliance's report said 389 meetings on cultural survey results were held between Native Americans and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), along with 180 filings in four states by Native American tribes and environmental groups and another 11 meetings between USACE and the Sioux tribe, from which only two filings of comments were made by the Sioux.

Legal action by both ETP against the Sioux tribe and the tribe's request for a temporary injunction against the pipeline construction are pending in federal district courts (see Shale DailyAug. 17).

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