Horizontal drilling equipment en route to Missouri River, ND Public Services Commission proposes DAPL fine

By C.S. Hagen
– In two weeks, Dakota Access Pipeline promises it will begin drilling across the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.

In a statement released on national election day, Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, said it was “mobilizing horizontal drilling equipment to the drill box site… Dakota Access remains confident that it will receive the easement for these two strips of land adjacent to Lake Oahe in a time frame that will not result in any significant delay.”

It is an announcement many believe is in direct defiance of President Obama’s recommendations to halt construction, and an effectual slap to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ face, which has not, nor has shown any signs of giving the easement Dakota Access Pipeline needs to legally cross the Missouri River. 

“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. Dakota Access also reprimanded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and demanded the Corps rescind an earlier statement that it was intending to halt construction. 

“To be clear, Dakota Access Pipeline has not voluntarily agreed to halt construction of the pipeline,” the press release stated. 

Last week, Senator John Hoeven R-N.D., arranged meetings in his Washington office with the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association to pressure the Obama Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue the easement for Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a press release from Hoeven’s office.  

Activist and drone operator, Myron Dewey, said the DAPL drill pad is a quarter of a mile from the Missouri River. The area is completely surrounded by razor wire, and long, deep pits have been dug on both sides of the pipeline.

“The black snake head is there,” Dewey said.

“What we are looking at is a full on, militaristic protection of this pipeline,” Dewey said. “They’re not wasting any money on the expense on trying to protect this pipeline.”

Law enforcement on top of Turtle Hill, guarding south of the pipeline - photo provided by Morton County Sheriff's Department

Law enforcement on top of Turtle Hill, guarding south of the pipeline – photo provided by Morton County Sheriff’s Department

Tom Goldtooth, director for the Indigenous Environmental Network said legal cases are being compiled, strategies are being made. Standing Rock is not planning on sitting down and letting the pipeline through.

“We know the black snake is continuing to strike,” Goldtooth said. “Even though there have been requests from federal agencies and from the Army Corps for them to voluntarily not construct and to hold off, that’s not what the Dakota Access is doing. They’re going full steam ahead.

DAPL route entrance Highway 6 - photo by C.S. Hagen

DAPL route entrance Highway 6 – photo by C.S. Hagen

“We really have to put our minds together, our hearts together,” Goldtooth said. “The power of prayer is what will stop this black snake. We will do what we can to create some headaches for the company, create some headaches for North Dakota, and just calling them to task on what they should do.”

Additionally, the North Dakota Public Service Commission proposed a USD 15,000 fine for Dakota Access LLC on Tuesday for potential permit violations after the company failed to notify the commission about finding cultural artifacts in the pipeline’s route in a timely manner, according to a press release made available by Julie Fedorchak, chairman of the Public Service Commission.

Dakota Access discovered four stone Cairns and other artifacts in the pipeline’s route in Morton County on October 17, and notified the Public Service Commission on October 27, according to Fedorchak.

“The company developed an alternative route around the site to leave it undisturbed,” Fedorchak said. “In the complaint filed today, Commission advocacy staff alleges the company failed to submit the required documentation and obtain the required clearance from the PSC [Public Service Commission] before resuming construction on the adjust pipeline route.”

Dakota Access has 20 days to respond to the complaint. Energy Transfer Partners’ spokesperson, Vicki Granado, did not return repeated emails and telephone calls. Repeated attempts were also unsuccessfully made to contact Colonel John W. Henderson of the Omaha District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for comment.

"You have guns, we have water" - photo by C.S. Hagen

“You have guns, we have water.” – photo by C.S. Hagen