BISMARCK, N.D. – U.S. and tribal officials are opposing an effort by the developer of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline to keep some information shielded from the public amid a court battle over the project.
Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners last month asked a federal judge to shield details such as spill response plans and pipeline features that could be targeted by anti-pipeline activists.
"The documents contain information that could be used by terrorists or others intending to cause harm," company attorney William Scherman said in court documents.
The pipeline to move North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois has been the subject of months of protests in North Dakota, with about 750 arrests since August. There also has been vandalism to company equipment in Iowa and North Dakota.
ETP is a defendant along with the Army Corps of Engineers in a lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux, who believe the pipeline threatens water, sacred sites and their right to practice their religion. The company disputes that and says the pipeline is safe.
Tribal attorneys in court documents call the company's reasoning for wanting the documents kept secret "a ruse." The actual reason, they maintain, is that "the documents are embarrassingly inadequate and undermine (the company's) primary narrative in this case — that oil spill risk can be dismissed without further analysis or independent expert review."
Corps attorneys say only a limited amount of the information warrants protection, based on analyses by the Transportation Security Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
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