Protesters claim victory as Army Corp halts Pipeline

Dec 9, 2016  | 3 min  | Ep4216

According to the National Pipeline Mapping System, there are 2.4 million miles of pipe snaking underneath the United States. Seventy-two thousand miles of those pipes are devoted to moving crude oil.

Recent attempts to add to the tangle have stirred up controversy. The divisive Keystone XL pipeline was turned back at the door. However, despite overt hostility, the Dakota Access pipeline was given the greenlight. The decision was even more polarizing than Keystone and opposition has, at times, turned violent. This week, the project was stopped in its tracks. John Torpy has the story.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were dancing this week to chase away the North Dakota winter and to celebrate what they call a victory over an unwanted pipeline.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers halted all construction of the last mile of the Dakota Access Pipeline project which is proposed to travel 94 feet under a Missouri river reservoir. The pipe will be placed in the proximity of an already existing natural gas line.

Dakota Access, the company building the pipeline, says the stoppage will move completion of the project from next January further down the road to April or May of 2017. Energy Transfer Partners, the owners of the pipeline, say the work stoppage has cost more than $450 million, and continued delays will add $83.3 million per month to the construction bill.

The pipeline, if completed, will carry oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and across Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The route has approval from regulators in all four states. However, the controversy centers on the project crossing just upstream of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Standing Rock officials say the pipeline threatens their drinking water and will destroy sacred sites. Protesters have been gathering at an encampment near the construction site for months to voice their opposition.

Energy Transfer Partners and the Army Corps of Engineers initially agreed the 1,172 mile pipeline was on the safest and most cost-effective path. The initial review took into consideration the number of water crossings, the proximity to homes, and whether the $3.8 billion pipeline crossed wetlands.

Company officials have vowed to keep the pipeline on the original route despite the most recent decision.

Kelcy Warren, CEO Energy Transfer, “"We're simply a company that builds infrastructure, acting lawfully and doing everything we're supposed to do and we're going to build a safe pipeline and we're gonna cross the river at that location. But as far as the route, that's not gonna change."

For Market to Market, I’m John Torpy

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