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ND Regulators OK Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion

North Dakota regulators have given the green light for a new pumping station for the Dakota Access oil pipeline. (Tony Webster/Flickr)
North Dakota regulators have given the green light for a new pumping station for the Dakota Access oil pipeline. (Tony Webster/Flickr)
February 20, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. -- In a unanimous decision, the state Public Service Commission has approved a key step in increasing capacity of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The move has prompted new concerns from Native American tribes and environmental groups.

The company behind the project, Energy Transfer, wants to double output from the line to more than 1 million barrels of oil per day. To do it, it needs approval for new pumping stations in several states, including North Dakota.

The Commission says it believes the application meets all state and federal guidelines. But Lisa DeVille of the Dakota Resource Council says regulators are ignoring pleas from tribal members about the harm of more oil flowing in close proximity to their lands.

"Expanding the pipeline will put tribal communities at further risk of contamination," she stresses.

DeVille cites the several reported spills from the pipeline since it began delivering oil in 2017.

The company says the expansion would not pose any greater risk to the environment or people living along the pipeline. Approval for new pumping stations in other states along the pipeline are pending.

DeVille says despite safety claims from the company and the oil industry itself, these pipelines always pose an environmental risk.

"The company can say all they want, but every single time there's always something happening to our environment," she states. "You know, industry is always saying, 'Oh, we have the safest way to do it,' but no pipeline is safe."

Last fall, more than 380,000 gallons of oil spilled in North Dakota from the Keystone oil pipeline.

As for the Dakota Access expansion, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says it's considering its legal options in light of the Commission's ruling.

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Mike Moen, Public News Service - ND