Tribe not satisfied with brief halt to Dakota Access pipeline

Supporters say the project is needed to transport the oil coming out of North Dakota shale.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 7, 2016 at 9:10 AM
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FORT YATES, N.D., Sept. 7 (UPI) -- A tribal group protesting a pipeline that is to carry oil from North Dakota said it was disappointed the project was still going forward despite a temporary delay.

Tribal groups are suing federal regulators over permits for the 1,134-mile pipeline because of threats to the Missouri River and other regional water ways. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which examined separately each water crossing, is accused of sidelining tribal interest.

In response to a motion filed by tribal groups over the weekend, a federal judge this week said construction on part of the Dakota Access pipeline must stop until the end of the week. David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said in a statement the temporary restraining order was far short of a victory.

"We are disappointed that the U.S. District Court's decision does not prevent the Dakota Access pipeline from destroying our sacred sites as we await a ruling on our original motion to stop the construction of the pipeline," he said.

In its federal suit against the Army Corps, the tribe complained that a fast-track permitting process was used that forfeited the public input process. The Army Corps, in its own filing, said it has no objections to a temporary order to halt some of the project's construction, saying it was interested in "preserving peace." Nevertheless, the corps said the merits of the challenge were unlikely to stand.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project, said protecting the interest of local landowners and the environment was a "top priority." It had no statement on tribal challenges to the pipeline.

The partnership said the pipeline is needed to accommodate and distribute the amount of crude oil being produced from the Bakken shale oil basin in North Dakota. Last week, Enbridge Energy, which alongside Marathon Petroleum has a stake in Dakota Access, said it was pulling the plug on the smaller Sandpiper project, saying North Dakota oil production wasn't enough to support new pipeline capacity.

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