The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved the expansion of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the state. Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, is one step closer to installing a pumping station in Linton.
By a unanimous vote, the three commissioners approved the pumping station. It would double the pumping capacity of the Dakota Access Pipeline to more than 1 million barrels of oil per day. The company and the PSC say the pipeline is and will be safe for anyone living near or downriver from it.
"The decision, to me, was clear. What's hard is I know it's not what Standing Rock wants. And I appreciate that. You can't make everybody happy in these jobs. We have a job to do that's based on law,” Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said.
Commissioners said in decisions like these, they try to focus on whether or not a company is compliant with state statute. One commissioner even saying that he has voted against things he would normally oppose, but decided to approve because the law was being followed. Adding that this wasn't one of those decisions.
Opponents of the pumping station say they're disappointed, but not surprised.
"We're going to do our best to be prepared for this and hope that we can actually get some cooperation eventually to able to let us be at the table and participate in some of these exercises. Now we're facing the doubling; now we're facing twice the risk, and so now we need to be prepared,” said Standing Rock Environment Director Allyson Two Bears.
Just a few months ago, the PSC hosted a public hearing on the issue where industry and tribal representatives as well as public speakers partook in 15 hours of questioning and debate.
While North Dakota joined South Dakota in approving the expansion, Iowa and Illinois still have to approve it themselves.
In response, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said they are disappointed in the vote. Adding, "The PSC is required to consider what the doubling of the flow of oil in an existing pipeline would have on North Dakota family farms and ranches, and North Dakota citizens' health and safety. Unfortunately, today's decision demonstrates little or no consideration of these impacts."
Going on to say the PSC failed to do its job for the people of North Dakota. There is no decision yet on whether or not the Tribe will appeal the decision, but commissioners said they'd expect it. And it could go as far as the State Supreme Court. Which could take more than a year to fulfill.