Sioux tribe plans to stop DAPL oil flow scheduled for next month

By Patrick C. Miller | April 19, 2017

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is expected to begin carrying crude from western North Dakota to Illinois next month, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe plans to pursue efforts in and out of court to stop it and other energy infrastructure projects.

David Archambault, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman, spoke during an event at the University of North Dakota School of Law on Tuesday called “Resistance, Resilience and Reconciliation: Indigenous Environmental Justice.”

Although the protest camps in North Dakota were evacuated, taken down and cleaned up in February, he said efforts would continue not only to stop the flow of oil through DAPL, but also to encourage financial institutions to divest from energy infrastructure projects.

“We’re going to try and stop the oil from flowing—just because it poses a risk to us and just because we are going to pay the cost and just because we have paid our share of costs,” Archambault said. “So we’re going to continue to fight this in court and we’re going to take it as far as we can.”

Energy Transfer Partners—the Dallas-based company building DAPL—submitted a tariff filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week saying it intends to have the pipeline in operation by May 14. The company also posted a statement on its website saying, “Dakota Access has completed the directional drilling under Lake Oahe and the remainder of pipeline construction.”

According to FERC, a tariff is a compilation of all effective rate schedules for a company or utility which includes general terms and conditions, as well as copy of each service agreement.

The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline will transport about half a million barrels of Bakken oil—roughly half the state’s crude production—from northwestern North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to a terminal in Patoka, Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has led opposition to the pipeline, which crosses the Missouri River under the Lake Oahe reservoir a half mile north of its reservation.

Energy Transfer Partners last week also submitted a FERC tariff filing for the Energy Transfer Crude Oil (ETCO) Pipeline Project, which will transport North Dakota crude from Patoka to refineries along the Gulf Coast. Both the Dakota Access and ETCO pipelines were originally scheduled to be in service before the end of 2016.

The $1 billion ETCO project consists of 678 miles of converted natural gas pipeline and 66 miles of new pipe running from Illinois through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana to a hub near Nederland, Texas.

During the UND event, Archambault said the tribe’s intent is to build awareness among investors, lenders, banks and other financial institutions that fund pipelines. He singled out Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners—in the process of merging—as companies he claimed have poor reputations for pipeline construction and management.

“If they got a project they want funded, we have to let the banks know that this is not a good company,” Archambault explained. “We’re going to continue to look at a divestment strategy, build an awareness around the world on certain companies.”