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Behind the Opposition to ETP’s Dakota Access Pipeline

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On August 15, 2017, North Dakota regulators granted Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) request to postpone the hearing on its alleged violation of state rules during the construction of its Dakota Access Pipeline. The hearing is now expected to schedule in late September, though the pipeline became operational on June 1, 2017.

The Standing Rock Sioux raised concerns in mid-June 2017 that the US Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately consider the environmental impacts while providing an assessment of the pipeline. But a US District Court Judge has allowed the pipeline to remain operational until the US Army Corps of Engineers’ review is complete.

As the figure above shows, Energy Transfer Partners claims that Dakota Access Pipeline path is not on the Standing Rock Sioux land. As you can see, the pipeline also runs beneath the clean water source on which the Standing Rock Sioux depend.

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The project

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172-mile pipeline extending from the Bakken production area in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. At current production volumes, the pipeline is expected to transport half of the total production from the Bakken. The project’s cost was $3.8 billion.

Dakota Access Pipeline is owned by Phillips 66 (PSX) and Bakken Pipeline Investments. A joint venture of Enbridge Energy Partners (EEP) and Marathon Petroleum (MPC) owns 49% of Bakken Pipeline Investments with the remaining held by Energy Transfer group. (Learn more in Market Realist’s “Must-Know: Which Companies Own the Dakota Access Pipeline?“)

Who opposes the pipeline and why?

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, many Native Americans in Iowa and the Dakotas, and a wide range of local US citizens and environmentalists have opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline. Based on scientific research in the area, these groups argue that the pipeline will harm sacred burial grounds as well as the quality of water on the reservation. The Lake Oahe area, from which the pipeline passes, contains a burial site and is a source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux, who live along the Missouri River.

Energy Transfer Partners has proposed that the community’s natural water source be moved to accommodate the pipeline, stating that “the Standing Rock Sioux water inlet by early 2017 will be moved to a location more than 70 miles away from the pipeline.”

In the next part, we’ll discuss the controversies surrounding TransCanada’s (TRP) Keystone XL Pipeline.

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