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In Blow To Green Campaigners, Trump Approves Dakota Access Pipeline


The controversial Dakota Access pipeline is set to gain the final go-ahead for completion after President Donald Trump asked for a speedy approval.

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The U.S. Army said it will grant Energy Transfer Partners LP the easement it needs to finish the line that will ship almost half a million barrels of crude a day from North Dakota’s shale fields to refineries across the Midwest and on to the Gulf Coast. The approval follows Trump’s memorandum that advised expediting review of the project. Trump took office promising to favor oil and natural gas developments as well as support new infrastructure, such as reviving TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux plans to fight the easement decision.

The move to allow completion of Dakota Access, after months of heated protests, is a blow to opponents who argued the pipeline would damage sites culturally significant to Native Americans and pose an environmental hazard where it crosses the Missouri River. The 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) project is emblematic of the broader battle over new pipelines. The $3.8 billion line has been stalled since September when the Obama administration halted work to reconsider prior decisions to allow it.

Energy Transfer Partners surged on news of the impending approval. The stock was up as much as 0.8 percent on Tuesday after falling 1.5 percent earlier.

The Army also said its Corps of Engineers will no longer prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the work to cross Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

“Today’s announcement will allow for the final step, which is granting of the easement,” Robert Speer, Acting Secretary of the Army, said in a statement. “Once that is done, we will have completed all the tasks in the Presidential Memorandum of January 24, 2017.”

The project was originally scheduled to be operational by the end of 2016. Now it’s expected to start operating June 1, assuming no new obstacles prevent it, a person familiar with the matter said Feb. 3. Lisa Dillinger, a spokeswoman for Energy Transfer, confirmed that the project would be in service in the second quarter.

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