The highly contentious Dakota Access Pipeline will begin shuttling oil across state lines in May despite protester concerns.
Energy Transfer Partners, the developer behind the so-called DAPL, is scheduled to start delivering oil on May 14 to Illinois, according to filings from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The oil project is expected to transport more than 500,000 barrels of oil a year across the eastern section of the country.
The $3.8 billion pipeline drew the ire of protesters and local Native American tribes such as the Standing Rock Sioux, whose members sued to block completion of a small section of the line near the reservation. Activists believe the pipeline’s construction trampled on tribal lands and could poison the tribe’s waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
The Obama administration rejected the previously approved pipeline last December through the Army Corps of Engineers. Former President Barack Obama argued at the time that the route needed further environmental reviews and assessments before construction could proceed.
President Donald Trump eventually issued orders approving the DAPL in January, resulting in a cascade of lawsuits by tribes suggesting the president violated federal law by denying proper review of environmental and religious rights issues surrounding the $3.8 billion pipeline.
Members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe saw their final attempt at scuttling the project thwarted in March when Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court said that forcibly preventing oil from coursing through the pipeline would run against public interest. His decision effectively left the anti-DAPL movement in shambles.
Boasberg ruled that the court “acknowledges that the tribe is likely to suffer irreparable harm to its members’ religious exercise if oil is introduced into the pipeline, but Dakota Access would also be substantially harmed by an injunction, given the financial and logistical injuries that would ensue.”
Protesters have few options available to them. Instead, many demonstrators have begun diverting their attention to the equally contentious Keystone XL Pipeline, another oil pipeline Trump approved through executive order. Obama originally rejected Keystone in 2015.
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