PSC sets a new 'investigative hearing' date for DAPL -- if a settlement isn't reached

Aug 17, 2017

Public Service Commissioners Brian Kroshus (i); Randy Christmann; and Julie Fedorchak.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission has set a new date for an “investigative hearing” on what could be a violation of the siting approval issued to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A third party construction inspector says the pipeline’s builders removed more trees and shrubs than they should have, under the terms of the siting permit. A hearing was to be held Thursday. But the company asked for some time to work out a settlement with PSC staffers –and the Commission earlier voted 2-1 to grant an extension.

Now the PSC has set a new hearing for October 3rd and 4th. That hearing would be cancelled if a settlement is reached between PSC staff and Energy Transfer Partners.

"This is a short continuance," said Commission chairman Randy Christmann. "Not an indefinite continuance."

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak was the lone “no” vote against the continuance. But she said all three Commissioners want the same thing – they just disagreed on how to get there.

"The work we're doing now is really to ensure that all the commitments the company made to the public through that permitting process are upheld," Fedorchak said. "The goal is to address the issues that have been raised in a thorough, fair and efficient manner."

Meanwhile, the PSC has not yet heard back from Energy Transfer Partners on a settlement agreement concerning a pipeline re-route to avoid cultural resources. That was also done without PSC approval. The proposed settlement would not cast any fault, but asks the company to donate $15,000 to the State Historic Preservation Office, or another non-profit.