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Debate over Sakakawea pipeline continues

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World Pipelines,

North Dakota’s Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations, otherwise known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, have told news sources that Texas-based Paradigm Energy Partners did not receive tribal permission before placing an oil pipeline and a natural gas pipeline beneath Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota's largest body of water, which is on the tribes’ reservations.

The tribes have ordered the Sakakawea pipeline project to be halted as they claim that the company should have had permission and made assurances to the Tribes that water supplies would not be harmed.

US District Court Judge, Daniel Hovland allowed drilling under Lake Sakakawea to continue until he issues his ruling while also lamenting the lack of legal opinions offered by attorneys and previous case law on the issue.

Hovland commented: "It sounds like I'm going to be left to interpret this with no guidance from anybody."

In upcoming weeks, Judge Daniel Hovland is expected to rule on whether the company should have obtained permission so that the project can continue to run more smoothly.

Paradigm Energy Partners has already completed a US$125 million oil pipeline under the lake and is boring the hole for a companion US$16.6 million natural gas pipeline in contention with the objections of the Three Affiliated Tribes. The developer says that it has federal permission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the US Army Corps of Engineers to run the pipelines beneath the lake.

A hearing on the issue is due to commence on 8 September in federal court in Bismarck. Paradigm hopes that Judge Daniel Hovland continues an injunction against the tribe so that construction can proceed.

North Dakota’s Public Service Commission approved construction of the US$125 million, 70 mile long oil pipeline project in January. The project is nearly complete.

Edited from various sources by Anna Nicklin

Sources: Native Times, The Turtle Island News, The Dickinson Press

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