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Administration Buys More Time As Dakota Pipeline Protests Heat Up

Tied up in controversy over a section in North Dakota, the Dakota Access pipeline will be the subject of more discussions and analysis before permitting is decided upon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a statement today, ahead of 200 planned protests for tomorrow.

The pipeline project—stalled in this disputed segment since September—is finishing up the rest of its construction by 1 December and hoping to start moving crude by early next year if granted permission to proceed with the missing segment.

The decision is the purview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which must determine whether the pipeline should disregard Standing Rock Sioux Tribe concerns about it crossing federal land near Lake Oahe.

On Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would work with the tribe on a timeline “that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously”, Bloomberg reported.

The US$3.8-billion pipeline, owned by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, said Monday it would finish the pipeline within 120 days of winning approval to cross federal land beneath Lake Oahe.

At this point, the company is banking on a change in leadership in Washington, though it was not clear whether President Barack Obama would have supported the easement, or whether the incoming president will, either.

Some 200 protests are planned for tomorrow at Army Corps Engineers officers and elsewhere across the U.S. Protesters have been increasing in momentum over the 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which will carry North Dakota oil to Illinois for shipping, passing through South Dakota and Iowa en route. To date, over 450 protesters have been arrested as they support the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which takes issue with the pipeline over concerns about the threat to drinking water and cultural sides.

There has been no indication from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as to when discussions and analysis might wrap up to allow the administration to render a final decision on the project.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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