Dakota Pipeline Officially Comes Online As Activists Drudge Up More Complaints


The highly contentious Dakota Access Pipeline officially goes online Thursday as activist continue to claim the project’s developers illegally leveled trees and trampled artifacts during the pipeline’s construction phase.

Members on the North Dakota Public Service Commission are investigating whether Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) removed too many trees along the multi-billion project’s route.

Regulators will also probe claims that the Texas-based company misreported troves of Indian American artifacts along the line. The so-called DAPL, which was completed in early May, faced eco-terrorist actions earlier this year.

The commission decided during a Wednesday meeting to hold hearings later this summer on the claims. ETP maintains it didn’t intentionally do anything wrong in either case, but will nonetheless plant more than 94,000 trees to replace those cleared during construction.

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An inspector identified 84 areas along the North Dakota portion of the project earlier this month where trees and shrubs were cleared in violation of the commission’s orders.

“The reason we have regulations regarding trees and shrubs in North Dakota is that they’re hard to grow, especially in western North Dakota,” Commissioner Julie Fedorchak told reporters after the meeting. “I’m pretty eager to wrap this us.”

DAPL’s construction was the source of several months of the protests and angst.

American Indian tribes and environmentalists believed the pipeline’s construction would trample on tribal lands and potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe. They worked for months demonstrating against the 1,200-mile-long pipeline, but to no avail.

The Army Corps of Engineers rejected the previously approved pipeline in December during former President Barack Obama’s final month in office. The Corps argued the route needed further environmental reviews and assessments before construction could proceed.

President Donald Trump eventually overturned his predecessor’s memo, essentially clearing the way for the project to resume unimpeded.

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