The US Army Corps of Engineers has released its long-awaited draft environmental impact statement on the Missouri River crossing of the Dakota Access Pipeline south of Bismarck.
The draft EIS evaluates five alternatives, three of which would require shutdown of the pipeline which has been moving more than 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day since it began operation in June 2017. The 1,172-mile pipeline connects the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois.
The Corps' initial evaluation of the river crossing issued in July 2016 resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact based on an Environmental Assessment, and in February 2017, the Corps granted an easement allowing for the installation of the 30-inch diameter pipeline. The easement provided for completion of an underground boring operation that placed the pipeline more than 90 feet below the riverbed. However, based on an appeal filed by Earthjustice and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the DC District Court in March, 2020, ordered the Corps to prepare an EIS for the crossing because its “effects on the quality of the human environment are likely to be highly controversial.”
The draft EIS offers five alternatives:
1) Denying the easement and abandoning the pipeline by removal
2) Denying the easement and abandoning the pipeline in place
3) Granting the easement with the same conditions as the previous easement
4) Granting the easement with additional easement conditions
5) Constructing and operating a pipeline reroute north of Bismarck
Governor Doug Burgum issued a statement, suggesting the Corps' final EIS should obviously keep the pipeline in operation.
"Under this court-ordered draft EIS prepared by the Army Corps of Engineers, three of the five alternatives would effectively force DAPL to shut down. This is simply unacceptable and would only force oil onto other modes of transportation that are more costly to consumers, less safe and less friendly to the environment," Burgum said. "The Corps should bring an end to this unnecessary and costly process by reaffirming the existing easement under Alternative 3 and continuing to allow the safe and clean operation of this critical infrastructure project, instead of allowing the Biden administration to continue its war on American energy, which only empowers foreign dictators and puts our national security at risk.”
The Corps is accepting public comments on the draft through November 13. It has also scheduled two public meetings on November 1 and 2 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the the Radisson Hotel, in Bismarck. Click here for more details or here to download the 438-page draft EIS.
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