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US Army to grant final permit for controversial Dakota pipeline

Trump, days after being sworn in, issued an executive order directing the U.S. Army Corps to smooth the path to finishing the line.
By Valerie Volcovici and Ernest Scheyder

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will grant the final easement needed to finish the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a court filing Tuesday.

The line had been delayed for several months after protests from Native American tribes and climate activists. The $3.8 billion line, which is being built by Energy Transfer Partners <ETP.N>, needed a final permit to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir that is part of the Missouri River.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is adjacent to the line's route, has said they will fight the decision. The Army Corps had previously stated that they would undertake further environmental review of the project. The tribe was not immediately available for comment.

The 1,170-mile line will bring crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale region to Patoka, Illinois, and from there connect to the Gulf of Mexico, where many U.S. refineries are located. The tribe had fought the line for months, fearing contamination of their drinking water and damage to sacred sites on their land.

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Numerous activists who have been protesting in North Dakota have vowed to stay, although the primary protest camp is located on a flood plain on Army Corps land and is in the process of being cleared.

Their protests, along with those of climate activists, resulted in the Obama administration's decision to delay a final permit that would allow construction under the Missouri River.

"The discord we have seen regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline doesn’t serve the tribe, the company, the Corps or any of the other stakeholders involved. Now, we all need to work together to ensure people and communities rebuild trust and peacefully resolve their differences," said John Hoeven, Republican senator from North Dakota, in a statement.

The Army informed the chairs and ranking members of the House Natural Resources and Senate Energy & Natural Resources committees of their intent in a letter on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump, days after being sworn in, issued an executive order directing the U.S. Army Corps to smooth the path to finishing the line. Tuesday's filing was made in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.