Dakota Access builder: Corps bowed to politics in halting pipeline

The company building the Dakota Access pipeline is telling a judge that it already has the permission it needs to complete the final link of the pipeline route under the Missouri River in North Dakota.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put the project on hold over the weekendwhen Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy issued a memorandum saying the pipeline's crossing "merits additional analysis, more rigorous exploration and evaluation of reasonable siting alternatives and greater public and tribal participation."

Attorneys with Dakota Access, however, have filed a request for summary judgement in Washington, D.C., where federal Judge James Boasberg is considering a legal challenge to the pipeline brought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, filed in July.

"The government is using the fiction of a separate right-of-way determination to hold up completion of a pipeline that the Corps has already finally approved to the full extent of the Corps' jurisdiction," according to the motion for summary judgement.

It accuses the Corps of "bowing to political pressure and an escalating campaign of violence and disorder waged by protesters who seek to impede construction of the pipeline."

Attorneys for Dakota Access say the case filed by the Standing Rock Sioux against the Corps of Engineers' approval for the pipeline is already scheduled for a status conference with Boasberg on Friday, at 10:30AM in Washington. Dakota Access attorneys say the company is prepared to make its case there for its summary judgement motion and is seeking an expedited decision to complete the pipeline.

The $3.78 billion project started planning in 2014. It is scheduled to run 1,172 miles from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to refineries and oil terminals in Illinois. It's expected to carry about 450,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

Thousands of people have gathered near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers to protest the decision to allow the pipeline to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation south of Bismarck, N.D. More than 500 people have been arrested during weeks of demonstrations at the protest site.

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