Key players in Dakota Access pipeline fight
Project has become a rallying point for American Indigenous groups and other pipeline opponents
The Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8-billion, four-state project designed to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois, has become a rallying point for American Indigenous groups and others determined to block the pipeline.
Here's a look at the key players connected with the protest, which began in April, heated up during the summer and boiled over in October with some 400 arrests.
The pipeline company
Energy Transfer Partners, or ETP, is a Fortune 500 oil and natural gas company based in Dallas. It is the main owner of the pipeline, along with Sunoco Logistics Partners and Phillips 66.
Launched in 1995, the company now has about 114,000 kilometres of natural gas and crude oil pipeline. The Dakota Access project would add nearly another 2,000 kilometres, and ETP has long had a goal of finishing it by the end of 2016. The company warned in court documents that a delay in construction would cost it $1.4 billion US in lost revenue in the first year.
In August, the company announced it had sold nearly 37 per cent of the project to Calgary-based Enbridge Energy Partners and Marathon Petroleum Corp. in a deal worth $2 billion US.
The tribal chairman
Dave Archambault II leads the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation on the North Dakota-South Dakota border sits close to the pipeline's path. The 45-year-old leader, whose tribe helped build a lawsuit against ETP and the federal government, has been arrested during demonstrations and sued by ETP for interfering with the pipeline.
Archambault has spoken for years about concerns among the leaders of North Dakota's five Indigenous reservations about increasing "environmental incidents" in the state's western oilpatch. He travelled to Switzerland to plead the tribe's case to the United Nations and urged U.S. President Barack Obama to step in.
After a federal judge declined to grant the Standing Rock tribe an injunction against the pipeline, three federal agencies ordered a halt to construction on Army Corps of Engineers-owned land while the permitting process was reviewed.
They say the pipeline threatens water sources and will disturb sacred sites and artifacts, and there is a broader concern about tribal sovereignty and rights.
Many of the protesters are demonstrating peacefully and urging others to do the same. Others have been more militant. More than 140 people were arrested recently when law enforcement moved in to evict an encampment that had been set up on pipeline property.
The main face of law enforcement has been Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, who previously was a captain with the state highway patrol, a part-time police officer, a corrections officer and a soldier.
His department has been accused by protesters of being sympathetic to the pipeline's workers and private security. Although deputies were not at a violent clash on Sept. 3 between protesters and private security guards on private land, Kirchmeier said in a news release that the guards were "ambushed and assaulted" by protesters. The tribe says the protesters were being provoked.
Kirchmeier has frequently cited the burden of the long-lasting protest on his small department. Morton County has received help from state troopers and National Guard members and, more recently, from sheriff's departments travelling in from several states to help out.
Tribal officials say about 30 protesters were pepper-sprayed and some bitten by dogs.
The sheriff's department said last week that its investigation concluded that the guards with dogs were not licensed to do security work in North Dakota. It sent the results of its investigation to prosecutors for consideration of misdemeanour charges.
Aside from appearing at some briefings, Dalrymple has been mostly out of public view during the long process. However, the governor did send 100 National Guard members to help law enforcement.
The federal judge
Boasberg, an Obama appointee in 2010, said the Corps documented dozens of its attempts to engage with Standing Rock officials to identify historical resources at Lake Oahe and other places covered by the permit, despite the tribe's claims to the contrary. He said the tribe did not show it will suffer any harm that the court has the authority to prevent.
The tribe's appeal is pending with the U.S. Court of Appeals.
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Enbridge Energy Partners was behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. In fact, TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. is behind the Keystone XL project.Nov 01, 2016 5:07 PM ET