by Timothy Cama and Davin Henry
TEMPORARY AND LIMITED
A federal judge on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order against construction work on a North Dakota pipeline project this week.
The ruling prevents developers from doing clearing work on a section of the Dakota Access Pipeline route between a state highway and an area west of a lake in the state. The ruling is less than the tribes suing against the pipeline had wanted, and its practical impact is minimal: the restraining order expires when the judge rules on a broader lawsuit to block pipeline construction this week, and developers say they weren’t even planning to do work on the area in question this week anyway.
But the ruling is the latest in a burgeoning legal fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,700-mile pipeline to deliver Bakken oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe objects to the project, saying it threatens environmental and cultural sites in the state, and that federal regulators didn’t do enough to consult them on the pipeline route.
William Leone, Dakota Access’ lawyer, warned a restraining order could back up other construction work continuing along the pipeline route.
But the company otherwise agreed to the ruling, so long as it didn’t reflect that the company was at fault, on the condition tribal protesters in North Dakota back away from the construction site.
“There is a principle at issue and it’s an important principle for my clients,” he said.
The ruling comes after a tense weekend of protests, in which the tribe alleges Dakota Access security used pepper spray and attack dogs against protesters and the company says the protesters hurt several guards.
Jan Hasselman, the tribe’s attorney, said Standing Rock has no influence over those protests.
“The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is not attacking anybody,” he said.
“They are working tirelessly to oppose violence, which does not advance its case, and violence from all sides.”
PIPELINE GIANTS TO MERGE: Amid the high-profile fight over Dakota Access, two of North America’s largest pipeline companies are planning to merge, creating the largest energy infrastructure company on the continent.
Enbridge Inc. said it is planning to acquire Spectra Energy Corp. for $28 billion in an all-stock deal.
Enbridge operates about 33,000 miles of pipe, specializing in bringing oil sands from Canada to refiners on the United States’s Gulf of Mexico coast. Spectra mainly moves natural gas to the East Coast.
“Over the last two years, we’ve been focused on identifying opportunities that would extend and diversify our asset base and sources of growth beyond 2019,” Al Monaco, president of Enbridge, said in a statement Tuesday.
Greg Ebel, president of Spectra, said the deal “creates what we believe will be the best, most diversified energy infrastructure company in North America, if not the world.”
TLB finds other political articles of interest at The Hill.com
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