Energy Transfer has reiterated its commitment to completing the Dakota Access Pipeline despite controversy surrounding a portion of the line’s route.
In a memo obtained by Common Dreams, Energy Transfer CEO Kelcy Warren wrote that his firm is “committed to completing construction and safely operating the Dakota Access Pipeline within the confines of the law.”
The memo was sent on Tuesday, just days after the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Interior and the Department of the Army halted construction at a portion of the line on Army Corps of Engineers land bordering or under Lake Oahe.
Construction will be paused until the Army Corps can “determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act or other federal laws.”
The federal agencies also requested that Energy Transfer pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
Energy Transfer has not commented on that request.
That request was issued just minutes after a U.S. District Court declined to halt construction at the same portion of the line’s route through North Dakota.
U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe last week after the tribe filed a lawsuit claiming that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated environmental and historical preservation laws when it approved the project.
Boasberg declined to pause construction after finding the tribe did not adequately show that work related to the project is “likely to cause damage.”
In the memo, Warren said Energy Transfer intends to meet with officials in Washington D.C. “to understand their position and reiterate our commitment to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline into operation.”
Native American and environmentalist groups oppose the $3.7 billion project, citing concerns about water quality and the possible disruption of historical sites.
In his memo, Warren said concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the local water supply “are unfounded” and noted the line runs adjacent to an existing natural gas pipeline.
“The pipeline crosses 90 to 115 feet below Lake Oahe with heavy wall pipe and, as we all know, the pipe is inspected, tested and re-tested prior to being placed into service to ensure its longterm integrity,” Warren wrote.
Warren added that “multiple archaeological studies” carried out with state preservation offices found “no sacred items” along the line’s route.
The majority of the pipeline’s route runs through privately-held land and neither Lake Oahe or the land abutting it are owned or controlled by a Native American group.
In his ruling, Judge Boasberg noted that only 1 percent of the pipeline will affect U.S. waterways.
According to Warren’s memo, construction has been completed on about 60 percent of the pipeline.
The 470,000 barrel per day pipeline is currently expected to be online in late 2016.