Dakota Access granted approval without Trump’s renegotiation

By Meenal Vamburkar on 2/9/2017

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- When President Donald Trump advised expediting the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline, he said he’d negotiate the terms. But the project was greenlighted with no strings attached.

Last month, Trump signed a memo encouraging a quick approval for Energy Transfer Partners LP’s $3.8-billion pipeline. But, he noted, "subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by us." The 1,172-mi (1,886-km) project had been stalled since September when the Obama administration halted work to reconsider prior permits granted for the project. Energy Transfer needed the easement to drill below Lake Oahe in North Dakota to complete the last segment of line.

The Army issued the easement on Wednesday -- resulting in the abrupt cancellation of a meeting with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s chairman, Dave Archambault II. He was flying to Washington D.C. when the news broke. The easement didn’t include extra conditions.

"We are pleased to have started drilling immediately after receiving the easement," Energy Transfer spokeswoman Vicki Granado said in an email Thursday. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Made in U.S.

Trump also directed the Commerce Secretary to lead a study that would look into building pipelines using U.S.-made steel -- a move the president said would "put a lot of steelworkers back to work." While the majority of the Dakota Access pipeline was made using U.S.-manufactured products, Energy Transfer has declined to comment specifically on the remaining section of the pipeline and whether it was U.S.-sourced.

The pipeline’s approval is a blow to opponents who argued it would damage sites that are culturally significant to Native Americans and poses an environmental hazard where it crosses beneath the Missouri River. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has vowed to keep fighting completion of the project. A day after Dakota Access got the final go-ahead, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe asked a federal court judge in Washington to block it.

Energy Transfer owns the project with Phillips 66 and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP. Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Enbridge Energy Partners LP announced a venture in August that would also take a minority stake in the pipeline.

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