The Public Service Commission and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline have reached a settlement over some reported problems with the company following the siting permit the PSC issued for the pipeline.
The problems included taking out more trees and shrubs along the route than outlined in the permit. Also, Energy Transfer Partners re-routed a part of the line away from cultural resources. The company notified the State Historic Preservation Office, but did not tell the PSC.
In the settlement, the company has to produce manuals for dealing with trees and shrubs, and to outline the transparency required when an unexpected cultural resource was encountered during construction. The company will also have to plant three times the amount of trees and shrubs it removed without permission, and will have to plant another 20,000 trees in the counties along the pipeline route. The company will also provide training to other companies.
Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said she’s comfortable with the settlement. She said the company did not harm any of the cultural resources.
"Where the 'miss' was is in the transparency," Fedorchak said. "We're addressing that transparency with the manual, with training and significant efforts to help the industry understand why that transparency is important."
Earlier, the PSC offered to settle the re-route issue by having the company donate $15,000 to the Historic Preservation Office or to another non-profit. That offer was rejected.
"This approach by the company will cost them significantly more that what was originally proposed," said Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "Their intentions and actions are certainly good, in terms of what they came back with, and where we landed."
Commissioners said they also wanted to avoid any protracted legal battles.