BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota congressman who helped write Donald Trump's pro-oil energy plan said Wednesday that Trump's presidency might aid completion of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, should the dispute over the project linger.
Meanwhile, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault is calling on President Barack Obama to stop the project before he leaves office in two months. Obama had raised the prospect of rerouting the pipeline to alleviate the tribe's concerns last week, and said his administration is monitoring the situation but will "let it play out for several more weeks."
The 1,200-mile, $3.8 billion pipeline being built by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners is to carry oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point at Patoka, Illinois — a route that skirts the tribe's reservation. The Standing Rock Sioux fear the pipeline will harm drinking water and cultural sites and is trying to stop the project through a lawsuit and with protests that have been ongoing in southern North Dakota for months, resulting in more than 400 arrests.
Archambault issued a statement Wednesday, saying "halting the Dakota Access pipeline presents a unique opportunity for President Obama to set a lasting and true legacy and respect the sovereignty and treaty rights of Standing Rock and tribal nations across America."
Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, whom Trump has leaned on for energy policy advice, said it's not feasible to reroute a pipeline that the company says is nearly complete.
The only holdup, according to ETP, is a section under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, near the protest site. That's where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing its permitting for the crossing in the wake of tribal concerns.
The corps has given no timetable for a decision, and officials did not respond to numerous telephone and email requests for comment. But in a statement on Election Day, ETP said crews are preparing to tunnel under Lake Oahe.
"Dakota Access expects that its mobilization of equipment will be completed over the next two weeks and that it will commence drilling activities upon completion of mobilization," the statement said, adding that the company is confident the matter of corps permission will be resolved "in a time frame that will not result in any significant delay."
Cramer said he expects the matter to be resolved before Trump enters the White House in January, but that if it isn't, "Donald Trump has been very clear he wants to rebuild the infrastructure of this country."
"He's been very clear he wants to replace foreign energy with domestic energy," Cramer said. "He's been very clear he wants to celebrate the shale oil revolution, not quash it."
During an oil conference in Bismarck in May, Trump unveiled an "America first" energy plan that includes reducing and eliminating "all barriers to responsible energy production."
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