PSC still negotiating with Dakota Access Pipeline owners over potential violations

Aug 28, 2017

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

Attorneys for the North Dakota Public Service Commission and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline will be meeting again to try and work out a settlement on a number of issues raised by the PSC.

It is alleged Energy Transfer Partners violated some of the terms of its siting agreement with the PSC. One deals with the company clearing away more trees and brush than allowed in the permit. Another deals with a re-route of the pipeline around culturally significant areas. It’s alleged the company did the re-route without notifying the PSC.

The Commission offered the company a settlement on the re-route. Energy Transfer Partners would pay $15,000 to the State Historic Preservation Office or another non-profit – and there would be no fault. PSC attorneys were consulting with company lawyers on the other issue. The company was asked to respond to that settlement offer by Thursday, Aug. 24th.

PSC attorney Zach Pelham said Energy Transfer Partners has offered a counter proposal – dealing with all the outstanding issues.

"The company did include a proposal to resolve those issues under investigation, which would include the tree-shrub issue," Pelham said when questioned by reporters. He also said this kind of give-and-take is not unusual in negotiations.

"The Commission is proceeding in good faith," Pelham said. "It is believed the company is also proceeding in good faith., to work toward a resolution."

The PSC has met three times with its attorney behind closed doors on these issues with the Dakota Access Pipeline. Commissioners said these happen only in extraordinary circumstances. And Commissioner Brian Kroshus said the process takes time.

"This isn't about speeding through the process," Kroshus said. "This is about getting it right."

The PSC had set an October date for an “investigative hearing” into the tree and brush issue. It had earlier set a "show cause" hearing on the re-route issue, but that was also postponed.