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Pipeline company reports 'physical attacks' along route as oil set to flow

Signs left by protesters demonstrating against the Energy Transfer Partners Dakota Access oil pipeline sit at the gate of a construction access road where construction has been stopped for several weeks due to the protests near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, N.D., last September. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

MORTON COUNTY, N.D. – Recent “coordinated physical attacks” along the Dakota Access Pipeline route have posed threats to life, physical safety and the environment, Dakota Access LLC said in court records filed late Monday, March 20.

The company filed a sealed motion late Monday to keep most its latest construction status report confidential, citing the recent attacks. The document, which is mostly redacted, did not specify where or when the attacks have occurred.

“These coordinated attacks will not stop line-fill operations,” Dakota Access attorneys wrote. “With that in mind, the company now believes that oil may flow sometime this week.”

Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, previously said oil could be introduced in the pipeline under Lake Oahe between Monday and Wednesday of this week. The next status update will be filed March 27.

The 1,172-mile pipeline will transport Bakken crude from North Dakota to a transportation hub in Patoka, Ill.

With oil expected to flow through the contested area of the Dakota Access Pipeline this week, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe launched a new fundraising effort to continue its legal fight. Although Native American tribes were unsuccessful in getting emergency orders to stop oil from flowing through the pipeline, the tribes still have legal challenges pending with federal courts in Washington.

“The legal battle is still very much ongoing,” Tracey Zephier, an attorney for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said Monday.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe launched a new fundraising effort through the crowdfunding site CrowdJustice to try to raise $10,000 to pay for attorneys and expert witnesses. Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes, which rely on Lake Oahe for their drinking water, argue the pipeline route violates their treaty rights and religious freedoms.

Zephier said some have the misperception that the legal battle is over now that the protest camps are cleared.

“Although the people are not on the ground anymore, this is still very much an active case in the courts,” Zephier said. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe attorney Jan Hasselman said earlier this month he believes a federal judge should order the pipeline turned off because the Trump administration did not allow the environmental review of the pipeline ordered by the Obama administration.