Tribes fight trade groups' intervention in pipeline dispute

American Indian tribes trying to shut down the Dakota Access oil pipeline are objecting to the possible intervention of national energy and manufacturing trade groups in the legal dispute.

Attorneys for the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes say in court documents filed Tuesday that the arguments of the trade groups are too lengthy and duplicate those already made by Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners and the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that permitted the $3.8 billion pipeline which began moving North Dakota oil to Illinois about two months ago.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, in Washington, D.C., in June ordered the Corps to further review the pipeline's impact on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has sued along with three other tribes over fears of environmental harm — a claim ETP rejects. Boasberg is deciding whether to shut down the pipeline while the work is completed.

The national trade groups seeking a say are the American Petroleum Institute, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, national Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers. They maintain in court documents that ceasing pipeline operations "would have serious adverse economic impacts throughout the oil industry and local and regional economies."

Tribal attorneys Jan Hasselman and Nicole Ducheneaux say the groups' 18-page argument is too long and "reiterates many of the arguments and legal principles raised by the Corps and Dakota Access (ETP)."

The trade groups on Wednesday submitted a revised argument that is only 10 pages contended again that their input can help Boasberg with his decision.

Boasberg last week ruled that the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents more than 500 companies, including ETP, will be allowed a say in the shutdown debate. The state group maintains it could be devastating to North Dakota's oil industry to shut down a pipeline shipping half of the daily production of the nation's No. 2-producing oil state.

The tribes aren't objecting to the intervention of the state group, saying its argument "consists primarily of factual information specific to the North Dakota oil industry."


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