Tribes make renewed push for pipeline protections

Published: Nov. 16, 2017 at 2:19 PM CST
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Two American Indian tribes in the Dakotas are making a renewed push to bolster protections for their water supply while federal officials further study the potential impact of the recently completed Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Lawyers for the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes on Wednesday filed court documents urging a federal judge to reject the recent arguments of federal officials and the pipeline developer that the tribes' proposals are unnecessary or unwarranted.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg is requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to further review the pipeline's impact on tribal interests, but he's allowing oil to continue flowing while that work is done over the next several months.

The tribes fear any oil spill beneath the Lake Oahe reservoir on the Missouri River would contaminate their water supply. They want additional protections including implementation of an emergency spill response plan that incorporates tribal input and includes equipment staging.

The Corps and Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners maintain the pipeline is safe. Their attorneys argued in court documents earlier this month that the tribal proposals aren't needed, would duplicate other efforts or would be burdensome.

Tribal attorneys Jan Hasselman and Nicole Ducheneaux in their response Wednesday disputed that, calling their requests "modest."

"Neither (the company) nor the Corps even attempts to make the case that they present any hardship to either of them, or that the public interest would be disserved," the attorneys wrote.

It's not known when Boasberg might rule.

The $3.8 billion pipeline began moving North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois in June, following months of delays caused by legal battles and more than half a year of on-the-ground protests in North Dakota that resulted in 761 arrests.


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