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Final phase of Dakota Access construction to begin

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World Pipelines,

With work completed on each side of Lake Oahe, on 8 November, Energy Transfer Partners chose the day of the US presidential election to announce that the final phase of its most controversial and contested construction project will begin in two weeks.

Although federal regulators have not given a go-ahead signal that the line will be able to proceed, the company has stated that it will not slow down construction of the pipeline that is contested by environmentalists and Native Americans groups. The company has begun moving the equipment that is required in order to prepare for tunnelling under Lake Oahe.

Construction of this part of the US$3.7 billion pipeline was halted in September due to protests from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who claimed that the route would desecrate sacred grounds. They also noted that a spill could contaminate local drinking water.

Thomas O'Hara, an Army Corps spokesman, is reported to have told Bloomberg News that the company had agreed to slow down construction, something that Energy Transfer has refuted.

"The statement released last night by the Army Corps was a mistake and the Army Corps intends to rescind it. To be clear, Dakota Access pipeline has not voluntarily agreed to halt construction of the pipeline in North Dakota."

The continuation of construction comes amidst mounting pressure from activists on those financing the pipeline to pull their support. On Tuesday, Citigroup Inc said that it had discussed its concerns with Energy Transfer Partners and urged it to reach a resolution with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Similarly, DNB said that it would reconsider its financing of the pipeline if the concerns raised by Native American tribes are not addressed.

Energy Transfer said it expects no significant delays in its plans to drill under the lake.

“I’m in shock. I’m speechless,” said Cheryl Angel, a Sicangu Lakota tribe member who has been at the Standing Rock camps since the spring. “It’s unconscionable and devastating. It’s almost as though they have no soul.”

The announcement presents the final phase of construction as a done deal in defiance of Barack Obama and the thousands of demonstrators who have contributed to and are camped out at Standing Rock to fight the project.

The timing of the announcement has raised suspicion and anger. Activists are frustrated with the US presidential race, since noting Hillary Clinton has refused to take a position on the conflict and Donald Trump has close financial ties to the pipeline.

“With the election being so big and North Dakota being so small, they think they can just sweep this under the rug,” said Danny Grassrope, a member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. “I’m not really surprised. Snakes are sneaky and this is a black snake. It blindsides everyone.”

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