BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The company building the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline and the Army Corps of Engineers want a judge to reject a request by American Indian tribes to revoke permission for the project to cross a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.
Oil might already be flowing under Lake Oahe, but the Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Yankton and Oglala Sioux tribes are continuing their legal battle against the pipeline in the hope that a judge will order it shut down.
The 1,200-mile (1930-kilometer) pipeline is to deliver North Dakota oil to a distribution point in Illinois. Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners said in court documents filed Monday that it expected to have the pipeline operating sometime this week. ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado on Friday declined to comment on whether oil was flowing, saying the company's next update will come Monday in a required report to the court.
The company is not required to report the start of operations to regulators, according to officials with the North Dakota Public Service Commission and the U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
The tribes say the pipeline threatens their drinking water, cultural sites and ability to practice their religion, which depends on pure water. ETP rejects those claims. The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River tribes last month asked U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to overturn the federal government's permission for the Lake Oahe crossing that the Trump administration granted to ETP.
ETP and the Corps, which manages the lake for the U.S. government, filed responses with the court on Thursday. They both asked Boasberg to reject the tribes' request, saying the process that resulted in permission for the lake crossing was properly handled.
"The Corps reasonably concluded that the pipeline would not impact tribal hunting, fishing and consumption rights in Lake Oahe given the extremely low risk of a spill," Scherman wrote.
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