BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators on Wednesday unanimously approved plans to add capacity to the Dakota Access pipeline, saying they believed the project had met exhaustive state and federal requirements.
The 3-0 vote by the all-Republican Public Service Commission came after the body signaled last month it was likely to approve a permit for the pipeline project, despite objections from opponents who said added capacity would increase the probability of a disastrous oil spill.
Texas-based Energy Transfer proposed doubling the capacity of the pipeline last year to meet growing demand for oil shipments from North Dakota. Commissioner Brian Kroshus said Wednesday that he believes the project would help take oil trucks off the road, reducing traffic deaths.
The company plans to build a $40 million pump station near Linton in south-central North Dakota. The new station is necessary to increase the amount of oil the pipeline can move.
The company also plans additional pumping stations in South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Commissioners in a South Dakota county last year approved a conditional-use permit for the project. Permits in the other states are pending. Iowa regulators want Energy Transfer to provide expert analysis to back up the company’s assertion that doubling the line’s capacity won’t increase the likelihood of a spill.
The proposed $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile underground pipeline was the subject of prolonged protests and hundreds of arrests during its construction in North Dakota in late 2016 and early 2017 because it will cross beneath the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe draws its water from the river and has concerns about pollution. Energy Transfer insisted the pipeline would be safe, and said the expansion would be, too.