Company: Dakota Access pipeline on track, despite threats

Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (March 20, 2017) — The company building the Dakota Access pipeline said Monday that the project remains on track to start moving oil this week despite recent "coordinated physical attacks" along the line.

The brief court filing late Monday from Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners didn't detail the attacks, but said they "pose threats to life, physical safety and the environment."

The filing cited those threats for redacting much of the rest of the 2½-page report, but ended: "These coordinated attacks will not stop line-fill operations. With that in mind, the company now believes that oil may flow sometime this week."

A spokeswoman for the company declined to elaborate on the types of attacks. A spokesman for the Morton County sheriff's office, the center of months of sometimes violent conflicts between protesters and law enforcement, didn't immediately respond to an email.

The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have battled the $3.8 billion pipeline in court for months, arguing it's a threat to water and their right to practice their religion.

The company has maintained the pipeline, which will move oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil field more than 1,000 miles across four states to a shipping point in Illinois, will be safe.

An appeals court on Saturday refused a request from the tribes for an emergency order to prevent oil from flowing through the pipeline.

The tribes have challenged an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg not to stop final construction of the pipeline, and they wanted the appeals court to halt any oil flow until that's resolved.

The appeals court said the tribes hadn't met "the stringent requirements" for such an order.

The tribes had asked Boasberg to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw permission for Energy Transfer Partners to lay pipe under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, which the Corps manages for the U.S. government. The stretch under the Missouri River reservoir is the last piece of construction for the pipeline.

The company is wrapping up pipe work under the lake and had said oil could start flowing between Monday and Wednesday.

The tribes' appeal rests on the religion argument. Boasberg has said he doesn't think the tribes have a strong case on appeal. He also said ETP would be "substantially harmed" by a delay in pipeline operations.

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