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Dakota Access won't reveal latest status of pipeline to the public

Filed Under: Environment | Law | National
More on: cheyenne river sioux, dakota access pipeline, north dakota, standing rock sioux
     
   

Alice Brown Otter, a young citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, addresses the Native Nations Rise rally at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com / Available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The wealthy backers of the Dakota Access Pipeline are refusing to reveal the status of their controversial project.

Claiming "coordinated physical attacks" along the route of the pipeline, attorneys for the firm filed their latest update on Monday almost entirely under seal. That means there's no way for tribal citizens or the public to know for certain when oil will start flowing along the route.

"Due to recent coordinated physical attacks along the pipeline that pose threats to life, physical safety, and the environment, the remainder of this status report is filed under seal," the second sentence of the filing reads.

However, the remaining portions that weren't redacted confirm that work continues on the final portion of the pipeline in North Dakota. The firm appears to be on track to start filling the pipeline with crude oil this week although attorneys weren't specific with a date.

"These coordinated attacks will not stop line-fill operations. With that in mind, the company now believes that oil may flow sometime this week," the filing states. In total, only five sentences of the two-page status report are visible to the public.


Only five sentences of a two-page March 20, 2017, Dakota Access Pipeline status update are visible to thee public.

The update represents further efforts by Dakota Access to keep key information out of the public's eyes due to alleged safety risks. Last summer, as the #NoDAPL movement gained steam, the firm claimed construction workers were at risk even though none were ever harmed.

Instead, it was dozens of opponents of the pipeline who suffered injuries -- some rather serious -- in repeated clashes with law enforcement in Morton County, North Dakota.

Now that the #NoDAPL encampment has been cleared of thousands of resisters, Dakota Access has shifted security concerns to the operation of the pipeline itself. The firm has refused to make public all of the information in several oil spill response documents, citing alleged threats by "wrongdoers" looking to harm the infrastructure.

Since the majority of the status update was redacted, there is no way at this time to corroborate the firm's claims of "coordinated physical attacks." As the report was filed on Monday evening, attorneys for Dakota Access lodged a separate motion, seeking permission to file another "document" under seal.

The new submissions, along with others being kept under wraps, cannot be seen by the public. And the information cannot be disseminated by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe or the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe even though their homelands are impacted by the impending operation of the pipeline.

The final portion of the 1,172-mile pipeline is located on federally-managed land at Lake Oahe along the Missouri River. The site is less than a half-mile north of the Standing Rock border.

The tribes fear the pipeline will impact their treaty rights, sacred sites, water resources and religious practices. But their efforts to stop oil from flowing have been rejected in the federal courts.

The tribes are still hoping to set aside the Trump administration's approval of the pipeline but it appears oil will be flowing before their respective motions for summary judgment are fully heard in court.

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