The signing of a White House memorandum on Jan. 24 by President Trump apparently clears the way for the Secretary of the Army to approve an easement that will green-light the completion of the last Dakota Access Pipeline segment under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation in North Dakota. The pipeline crossing is on private land north of the reservation.
The White House memorandum says, in part, “The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under development by Dakota Access, LLC, represents a substantial, multi-billion-dollar private investment in our Nation's energy infrastructure. This pipeline is designed to carry approximately 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to oil markets in the United States. At this time, the DAPL is more than 90 percent complete across its entire route. Only a limited portion remains to be constructed.”
The White House memorandum also directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take all actions necessary and appropriate to: review and approve in an expedited manner, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, and with such conditions as are necessary or appropriate, requests for approvals to construct and operate the DAPL.
The DAPL pipeline crossing of the Missouri River has been stalled due to environmentalist's protests and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposition since late last year. These protests have increased and have become more vocal due to President Trump's recent memorandum.
The Army Corps of Engineers issued a memorandum on Dec. 3, 2016 that says: The Corps received an application for an easement on Oct. 21, 2014 from Dakota Access. Of the 1,168 mile total length, only about 3% is subject to Corps jurisdiction. DAPL will use a procedure called horizontal directional drilling to place the pipeline about 92 feet below the lake bed.
The Corp's Omaha District found that the proposed DAPL crossing under Lake Oahe “will not impair the usefulness” of the Corp's Lake Oahe Project. The Corps finding goes on to say that granting an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe will not adversely impact the capability of the lake to generate the benefits for with Lake Oahe was Congressionally authorized.
The Corps' Omaha District finding also says that the proposed DAPL crossing of the Corps project at Lake Oahe “will not be injurious to the public interest.” Additionally, the memo says that the overall pipeline project will improve overall safety to the public and the environment by reducing crude oil shipped by rail and truck and significantly increase the amount shipped by pipeline.
The Corps also finds that the parent company's completion of those projects demonstrates that the applicant possesses the technical and financial capabilities to comply with the easement. The Army Corps notified the Congress of the application on September 15, 2015. The Corps and the Omaha District intended to execute and issue the easement to DAPL.
Accordingly, as the Dec. 3, 2016 Corps memo states, the Omaha District of the Army Corps was prepared to approve the Dakota Access application and execute and issue the easement to Dakota Access as early as Sept. 15, 2015. The Obama Administration then stepped in over a year later and said it wouldn't okay the easement.
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. and Sunoco Logistics Partners said in a lengthy Dec. 4, 2016 press release that the Obama Administration's statement today that it would not at this time issue an “easement” to Dakota Access Pipeline is a purely political action - which the Administration concedes when it states it has made a “policy decision” - Washington code for a political decision.
For more than three years now, Dakota Access Pipeline has done nothing but play by the rules. The Army Corps of Engineers agrees, and has said so publicly and in federal court filings. The Corps' review process and its decisions have been ratified by two federal courts. The Army Corps confirmed this again when it stated its “policy decision” does “not alter the Army's position that the Corps' prior reviews and actions have comported with legal requirements.”
As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.
According to the most recent DAPL Construction Progress report filed with the Iowa Utilities Board on Dec. 28, 2016, 89% of the cleanup and land restoration activities have been completed. Calhoun, Sac, Buena Vista and Cherokee Counties have sections along the route where land restoration and cleanup activity was suspended due to frozen ground. All other construction activities are 100% complete across Iowa.
Craig Stevens, the spokesperson for the MAIN Coalition, recently answered numerous emailed questions. “On Monday morning Jan. 6th the Judge presiding over the legal proceedings, Federal District Court Judge James Boasberg, will meet again with the parties (government, company, tribes) to discuss some of the issues. In fact, the Judge specifically asked for the timeline on how long until oil can go through the pipeline,” said Stevens.
Stevens emailed a statement on behalf of the MAIN COALITION regarding the Corps of Engineers decision on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 to grant the easement for the Dakota Access pipeline crossing under Lake Oahe near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.
“We're pleased that the Trump Administration has followed the counsel of the Army Corps of Engineers and the letter of law by indicating its intention to issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. This action is proof-positive of President Trump's commitment to supporting domestic energy development, including midstream infrastructure projects. Today's action sends a strong positive signal to those individuals and companies seeking to invest in the U.S. and will help strengthen our economy and create jobs.”