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US army engineers want more study, tribal input on Dakota Access pipeline

US army engineers want more study on the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe claim the project could contaminate its water supply and destroy sacred sites.

The Army Corps of Engineers has finished a review of the disputed Dakota Access pipeline but wants more study and tribal input before deciding whether to allow it to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.

In a joint statement, the Departments of the Army and the Interior said on Monday that they wanted additional discussion due to concerns about protecting Lake Oahe, a sensitive, federally-owned water source. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says the project could contaminate its water supply and destroy sacred sites.

Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy said in a letter to company officials and tribal Chairman Dave Archambault that "additional discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and analysis are warranted." Discussions are to include possible easement for the pipeline crossing that would reduce the risk of a spill.

Darcy also cited the history of "repeated dispossessions" of the Great Sioux Nation in her letter.

Project 60 percent built

While the corps granted developer Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) the permits it needed in July, it said in September more analysis was warranted due to American Indian concerns about the $3.8 billion (3.5 billion-euro) project. The Standing Rock Sioux reservation will be skirted by the pipeline which is already 60 per cent built. It is to carry oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a refinery and shipping point near Chicago in Illinois.

Darcy said the Army will work with the the Standing Rock Sioux on a timeline "that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously."

President-elect Donald Trump's financial disclosure forms show he has between $500,000 and $1 million invested in Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access, which is developing the Dakota Access Pipeline and $500,000 to $1 million holding in Phillips 66, which will have a 25 percent stake in the Dakota Access project once it is completed.

Developers hope to complete construction of the pipeline, except for the disputed North Dakota section, by December 1. The first movements of crude could begin in early 2017 if the government gives approval. Trump will take office in January.

jm/bw (Reuters, AP)

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