Hearing set for Dakota Access expansion

The Dakota Access Pipeline, pictured under construction in 2016.

A hearing will be held to consider a request to expand the Dakota Access pipeline to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day, which will require the addition of five 6,000 horsepower motors and pumps.

The hearing, announced on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 21, will be 9  a.m. Nov. 13 in the Emmons County Courthouse Auditorium, 100 Fourth Street NW, in Linton.

Members of the Lakota Law project called the hearing a step in the right direction.

“The process must be fully transparent, the public must be heard, and tribal concerns about the safety of sacred lands and water must be properly addressed," the Lakota Law Project said in a media release sent to the Williston Herald. "We look forward to making sure those concerns are voiced in detail at the hearing, and it is our hope that the commission will use its authority to say no to the proposed expansion and prevent further danger to the environment we share.”

Members of the Lakota Law Project had pressed state officials for information about whether there will be a public hearing the day before the hearing was annnounced.

In a press release sent to the Williston Herald on Tuesday, Aug. 20, the organization said its campaign for public outreach had inspired more than 19,000 letters from the public to Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus, and questioned why no announcement had yet been made as to whether there would be a public hearing.

“Now we have a situation where it’s basically a different pipeline,” said Chase Iron Eyes in the email. He serves as lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project and public relations director for Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner. “They’re trying to pretend like they don’t owe us legal and regulatory oversight. It’s time to stand again with Standing Rock.”

Standing Rock Tribal Councilman Charles Walker, meanwhile, said that the pipeline doesn’t benefit the tribes or even the American people.

“It’s going towards corporations,” he said.

Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier expressed concern about increasing the pipeline’s volume.

“We don’t know if the pipeline is capable of handling [it], and I haven’t seen any documents to justify that,” he said.

Oglala Sioux tribe President Julian Bear said it is important to hold the federal government accountable.

“We have to assert our authority,” he said. “We need to assert our sovereignty, and that’s what the government needs to expect every time they come to us.”

Rodney Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, located south of Standing Rock in South Dakota, said it’s about both sovereignty and the water.

“My main concern with DAPL is that they’ve basically disregarded Indian input,” he said. “The water comes down through here, our territory, so we have to make sure that the water is clean and stays clean.”

Dakota Access filed its application seeking to expand the pipeline’s capacity and to waive requirements for a separate hearing in June. They had wanted to proceed by virtue of a notice and opportunity for hearing procedure.

The Public Service Commission said the hearing in November is to consider whether the proposed facilities will produce minimal adverse effects including human and environmental ones, as well as whether it is appropriate to waive any procedures and time schedules involved, as requested by the company.

Petitions to intervene are allowed, the Public Service Commission’s release added, and should be filed by Oct. 14, 2019, to ensure that any party granted intervenor status is able to participate fully in pre-hearing filings and other actions.

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