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Dakota Access pipeline developers sue protesters

Hundreds of miles of pipe sit in storage in Newton, Iowa, as photographed last fal. Cedar Rapids Gazette file photo.

BISMARCK—Dakota Access LLC, a partner of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, has countered a federal lawsuit filed against it to stop a major pipeline project under construction by filing a lawsuit of its own.

The lawsuit was filed Monday against Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault and several other protesters who have been actively opposing the project at a construction site.

Archambault said, during a conference call Monday with reporters, he expects additional arrests to take place as tribal members and activists will continue their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners, confirmed the lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday.

"We have taken the steps necessary to protect our workers and those who live in the area, which is our top priority," Granado said.

At issue is a section of the pipeline to be bored under the Missouri River and run less than a mile from the tribe's reservation boundary.

"The United States should use all its wisdom and technology to develop alternative sources of power," Archambault told reporters during a phone conference call on Monday.

Tribal leaders and groups have been staging protests over the pipeline's construction, citing concerns over potential contamination of the Missouri River if the pipeline were to rupture.

"The Dakota Access Pipeline project is harmful. It will not just be harmful to my people, but its intent and construction will harm the water of the Missouri River," said Archambault, urging others to join tribal members protesting the project.

Archambault, who describes the project as a poor decision and the product of greed, was arrested last week at a protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"I was doing what everyone else was doing," Archambault said of his arrest on charges of disorderly conduct.

He was among several arrested when protesters, aiming to prevent pipeline workers from leaving the site, pushed back against a police line.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier was at the site of the protests and unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.

The pipeline is being built by Dakota Access LLC, a partner of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners. The 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline when finished would originate in western North Dakota near Stanley and would end near Patoka, Ill.

The lawsuit against Archambault II and other protesters seeks restraining orders and unspecified monetary damages.

The protesters "have created and will continue to create a risk of bodily injury and harm to Dakota Access employees and contractors, as well as to law enforcement personnel and other individuals at the construction site," the company wrote in court papers.

Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners, in a company statement thanked law enforcement for their efforts to ensure workers are kept safe during the protests.

"It is unfortunate that there are those who will put the lives of others in jeopardy. We are constructing this pipeline in accordance with applicable laws, and the local, state and federal permits and approvals we have received," Granado said. "This is an important energy infrastructure project that benefits all Americans and our national economy. We look forward to the pipeline being complete by the end of the year."

The tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month over the permits issued for the project. Earthjustice is representing the tribe in the suit, which claims the corps violated the National Historic Preservation Act and other laws in issuing permits for the pipeline.

Oral arguments in the lawsuit are set for Aug. 24 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Archambault said the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes in the region are already living in severe poverty and shouldn't be put under additional stress by the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"What little we have left is under attack," Archambault said.

If completed on schedule before the end of the year, the Dakota Access Pipeline would transport as many as 450,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude with a future maximum capacity of 570,000 barrels per day.

The route through North Dakota extends approximately 358 miles and passes through seven counties, including Mountrail, Williams, McKenzie, Dunn, Mercer, Morton and Emmons.

The pipeline has an overall cost of $3.78 billion; $1.4 billion of the total cost would be invested in North Dakota.

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