BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline missed a year-end deadline to plant thousands of trees along the pipeline corridor in North Dakota, but the company said it was still complying with a settlement of allegations it violated state rules during construction.
Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which built the $3.8 billion pipeline that’s now moving North Dakota oil to Illinois, is falling back on a provision of the September 2017 agreement that provides more time should the company run into problems. The company must provide 20,000 trees to county soil conservation districts along the pipeline’s 359-mile (578-kilometer) route across North Dakota.
The deal with North Dakota’s Public Service Commission settled allegations that ETP removed too many trees in some areas and that it improperly handled a pipeline route change after discovering Native American artifacts. The artifacts were not disturbed.
The agreement required the company to replant trees and shrubs at a higher ratio in the disputed areas, along with an additional 20,000 trees along the entire route. ETP filed documents in October detailing efforts by a contractor to plant 141,000 trees and shrubs, but the PSC asked the company a month later to provide more documentation that it had complied with all settlement terms.
Company attorney Lawrence Bender recently submitted a report from contractor KC Harvey Environmental further detailing the replanting efforts in the disputed areas. He noted that in some areas where landowners refused trees, the trees were reallocated to other landowners “who had the space and desire to accommodate more plantings.”