By Timothy Cama
The company that built the Dakota Access pipeline has filled the pipe with oil and is making the final preparations to start moving the oil.
The development is a significant milestone in the life of the highly controversial project, which stalled last year amid intense protests by American Indians and their allies who opposed running the pipeline under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.
Energy Transfer Partners revealed the progress late Monday in a federal court filing.
“Oil has been placed in the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath Lake Oahe,” the company said. “Dakota Access is currently commissioning the full pipeline and is preparing to place the pipeline into service.”
The company did not say exactly when it expects to start making deliveries through the line. The update comes days after President Trump gave approval to the Keystone XL pipeline, another controversial pipeline planned to carry oil sands petroleum.
The 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline runs from North Dakota to Illinois, serving a route key to the growing oil industry in North Dakota and neighboring states, with a capacity of 570,000 barrels of oil a day.
Two American Indian tribes with reservations near Lake Oahe are still working in federal court to have the pipeline shut down, saying it could harm their water supplies and violate their religious freedom.
Those tribes, and thousands of their allies, protested for months in a camp near the lake last fall.
They succeeded in convincing the Obama administration in December to withhold the easement that Energy Transfer needed to build under the federally owned lake. But Trump signed a memorandum days after taking office asking the Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider. The Army Corps issued the easement last month.