Pipeline company seeks court permission to proceed with plan

Dakota Pipeline protesters stand arm-in-arm in front of the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., before marching downtown to the William L. Guy Federal Building, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)
Dakota Pipeline protesters stand arm-in-arm in front of the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., before marching downtown to the William L. Guy Federal Building, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) — The company building the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline is seeking a federal court’s permission to lay pipe under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota and finish the four-state project.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners and a subsidiary are turning to a judge for help rather than waiting for President-Elect Donald Trump, a pipeline supporter, to take office.

“The declaratory relief Dakota Access Pipeline has sought seeks to end the (Obama) Administration’s political interference in the Dakota Access Pipeline review process,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The Army Corps of Engineers did not immediately comment.

The Corps on Monday called for more study and input from the Standing Rock Sioux before it decides whether to allow the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. The 1,200-mile pipeline that’s to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois is largely complete except for that stretch, which will skirt the tribe’s reservation. The tribe says the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites.

The Corps in July granted Energy Transfer Partners the permits needed for the project, but it said in September that further analysis was warranted, given the tribe’s concerns. Its announcement Monday came amid speculation that federal officials were on the brink of approving the crossing. ETP last week began preparing equipment to bore under the river.

“Dakota Access has been waiting long enough to complete this pipeline,” the company’s CEO, Kelcy Warren, said Tuesday.

ETP disputes that the pipeline would endanger the tribe and Warren noted earlier that Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy had informed company officials and Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault that the Corps’ previous permit decisions “comported with legal requirements.” ETP contends that the Corps has no legal justification for the delay.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is an environmental attorney and president of the New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance, which seeks to protect watersheds worldwide, was expected to join the tribe’s protest on Tuesday. Activists were also calling for demonstrations at Army Corps of Engineers offices and the offices of the banks financing the pipeline construction.