Opponents want hearing on Dakota Access pipeline expansion

Pipes near Dakota Access Pipeline work site Photo: KSTP/Matt Belanger
Pipes near Dakota Access Pipeline work site

Updated: July 11, 2019 05:02 PM

Dakota Access oil pipeline opponents plan to request a hearing on a proposal to nearly double the pipeline's capacity.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission decided unanimously Wednesday to open the proposal up for public input.


Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said the tribe wants the pipeline shut down, but since there is a proposal to expand its capacity, "Someone needs to be accountable to make sure that's safe and legal."

The commission should hold a hearing and demand an engineering analysis of the proposed expansion, Hasselman told The Bismarck Tribune.

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The line's operator, Texas-based Energy Transfer, said last month that it plans to expand the pipeline's capacity from more than 500,000 barrels per day to as much as 1.1 million barrels. It said the expansion would let the company meet growing demand without having to turn to additional pipelines or rail shipments.

The company, which was formerly known as Energy Transfer Partners, would build additional pumping stations in North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois. Since some of the land in North Dakota falls outside of the pipeline corridor, permission would be needed from the PSC.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the PSC would consider requests from the public for a hearing like it did in the past for the original pipeline.

"This is a process that is something the commission uses on a very routine basis," Fedorchak said.

The public has until Aug. 9 to request a hearing. Standing Rock Chairman Mike Faith said the tribe will push for one, citing environmental concerns and the potential for more pressure along the pipeline. Representatives from the Sierra Club and Lakota People's Law Project also plan to call for a hearing.

"We should be moving away from fossil fuels to renewable and alternative fuels," said Wayde Schafer, conservation organizer for the Sierra Club. "Long-term, we should be putting our effort toward that."

The Dakota Access pipeline carries oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The company said last year that it was planning to ship more crude to the Gulf Coast.

The pipeline sparked massive protests near the Standing Rock Indian reservation before it was completed and began moving oil in 2017.

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