U.S. could grant final permit for Dakota
pipeline as soon as Friday: government lawyer
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[February 07, 2017]
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army
secretary could make a decision on the final permit needed to complete
the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline as soon as Friday, the
government's lawyer told a Washington, D.C., court on Monday.
The Army Corp of Engineers told the court it has submitted its
recommendation to Robert Speer, the acting secretary of the Army, on
whether it needs to complete a full environmental review before it can
grant the final permit allowing work to start on a contested tunnel
under a lake. The review was requested in December by former President
Opponents argue that letting the pipeline cross under Lake Oahe, a
reservoir that is the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux
Reservation, would damage sacred lands and could leak oil into the
tribe's water supply.
Proponents believe the pipeline is necessary to transport U.S. oil
safely and that it would create jobs.
Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice, who represents the
Standing Rock Sioux, said the tribe will challenge the U.S. government
in court if the Army grants the easement. The tribe, along with other
Native American groups, environmentalists and other activists, have
opposed the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline led by Energy Transfer
Partners LP <ETP.N>.
He said it is unclear whether construction could begin while the
decision is challenged or whether the court will grant an injunction
blocking the work.
“Our position is the tribe's treaty rights and the law require the full
(Environmental Impact Study) process that the government initiated in
December. Issuing the easement without that process will be a serious
violation of the law,” Hasselman told Reuters.
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A police barricade stands on Backwater Bridge north of the Dakota
Access oil pipeline protest camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota,
U.S., January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
A spokesman for the Army was not immediately available to comment.
Energy Transfer Partners declined to comment on the legal
At the hearing at the D.C. Circuit Court on Monday, lawyers for ETP
said the pipeline would become fully operational around 90 days
after construction begins. If the easement is granted, oil can start
crossing under the lake, a reservoir that is part of the Missouri
River, as soon as 60 days after construction starts.
(Additional reporting by Liz Hampton in Houston; Editing by Dan
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