As DAPL saga begins to wind down, company executives plead for sanity in pipeline wars
A US federal judge has denied a request from the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Standing Rock Sioux Native American tribes to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Pipeline operator Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) received its final easement from the US government last week, allowing it to complete a last section of pipe that runs under the Missouri River.
A spokesperson for DAPL says construction is progressing faster than anticipated and the line could be in service in less than a month.
ETP actually received all the required permits, including the river crossing permit, in July of last year. This final easement is part of the river crossing permit which was "arbitrarily" withheld by the Obama Administration late last year due to mounting protests.
The tribes say the pipeline would endanger their cultural sites and infringes on their religious freedom. The judge ruled that no harm can come from construction, at least not until "the spigots are turned on and the oil flows through the pipeline." Another hearing has been scheduled for February 27.
ETP executive VP Joey Mahmoud has denounced protests against the project, noting that the pipeline has been "subjected to a series of politically motivated actions by the previous administration, accompanied by a host of half-truths and misrepresentations in both social and mainstream media." Mahmoud described how ETP employees and their children have faced death threats, calling the "well-funded" protestors basically domestic terrorists.
Almost 700 protestors have been arrested for arson, theft, trespassing, and attempted murder. Protestors have been accused of assaulting pipeline workers, firing at police officers and setting off an improvised explosive device causing one protestor to lose her arm.
Less than 6% of those arrested are actually from North Dakota. Local officials claim the out-of-state protestors have been recruited by national activist groups and many appear to have been professionally trained. Company executives are pleading for sanity in the pipeline debate, which has spiralled out of control over the past 8 years.
Joey Mahmoud, Executive VP of Energy Transfer Partners
The Army Corps of Engineers has ordered DAPL protestors to leave by February 22. It is unclear who will pay for the debris, trash, untreated waste and abandoned vehicles left behind by the protestors, which now risks contaminating the Missouri River. The state of North Dakota says the protests have costs taxpayers US$33 million to date.