After a week that saw violent protests and intervention by the federal government, the chief executive of the corporate parent of Dakota Access, the company building the Bakken pipeline, asked his employees to remain “thoughtful and professional” and to contact their elected representatives.
The Tuesday morning letter to employees and the media from Kelcy Warren, chairman and chief executive officer of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, also stated the Dakota Access had obtained right-of-way for the entire pipeline. He added that all four states the under-construction pipeline cuts through — North and South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa — “have been issued favorable certificates, permits and approvals for construction.”
The statement came one week after the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of Interior requested a voluntary halt of pipeline construction. The cessation of work — spurred by protests involving native Americans in North Dakota, national media attention and the request for a court order to block the project — was requested to allow the Army Corps of Engineers time to determine if it needs to reconsider any of its previous decisions.
The Corps earlier this year approved project permits.
“We are committed to completing construction and safely operating the Dakota Access Pipeline within the confines of the law,” Warren said in his letter.
He directed Energy Transfer employees to “continue to conduct your jobs in a thoughtful and professional manner,” demonstrating “to the world that we are playing by the rules.”
Warren also called on them to “contact your elected officials — all of them — to tell them how important this project is to your livelihood. Remind them that the company fully complied with the regulatory process ... .”
Vicki Granado, spokeswoman with Dakota Access, told The Gazette in an email Tuesday that work has been ongoing along the four-state pipeline route.
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The voluntary halt applies only to a site in North Dakota, where members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe requested a temporary restraining order against the project.
“We intend to meet with officials in Washington to understand their position and reiterate our commitment to bring Dakota Access Pipeline into operation,” Warren wrote. “I am confident that as long as the government ultimately decides the fate of the project based on science and engineering, the Dakota Access pipeline will become operational, bringing a safer means of transportation to a much needed supply of oil to communities across the country.”
Meanwhile, Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been involved in protests against the pipeline for its route through what he said are tribal burial and prayer sites, addressed Warren’s letter and lambasted the energy company in a Tuesday news release.
“Energy Transfer Partners has proved time and time again that the bottom line for them is money. The bottom line for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is and will always be protecting our lands, people, water and sacred sites from the devastation of this pipeline. Our fight isn’t over until there is permanent protection of our people and resources from the pipeline,” he said.
The 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter underground pipeline will originate in western North Dakota, cut across South Dakota and 18 counties in Iowa before ending at an existing pipeline in Patoka, Ill.
Earlier this year, the Iowa Utilities Board granted permits for the route in Iowa and allowed Dakota Access to use eminent domain powers if it was unable to secure voluntary easements from landowners.
The full letter by Energy Transfer’s Kelcy Warren can be seen on The Gazette’s website.