December 21, 2016 Read More →

On the Blogs: A Call for More Transparency on the Dakota Access Pipeline

Clark Williams-Derry for Sightline Institute:

The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) owes its investors a straight answer: does it face a January 1 contractual deadline with its shippers, or doesn’t it? Company spokespeople have told the court that they do, but told the press that they don’t. Now, with less than two weeks before the alleged deadline, it’s time for the company to stop the doubletalk and set the record straight.

In a sworn declaration submitted to a federal court on August 2, Joey Mahmoud, a Vice President of Dakota Access, LLC (and also an Executive Vice President of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), a co-owner of Dakota Access) clearly stated that the pipeline’s long-term shipping contracts would expire on January 1:

“In connection with its long-term transportation contracts with 9 committed shippers, Dakota Access has committed to complete, test and have DAPL in service by January 1, 2017. The long-term transportation contracts give shippers a right to terminate their commitments if DAPL is not in full service per the contract deadline…and loss of shippers to the project could effectively result in project cancellation.”

The legal team representing Dakota Access doubled down on the claim in late November, warning the court of the financial harm that the company faces if the pipeline is not completed on January 1 and “…those who have contracts to purchase oil from Dakota Access exercise their rights to cancel due to the delay.”

Yet in repeated statements to the press, the company has flatly denied that it faces any deadline on January 1. A November 4 story in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader quoted Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Vicki Granado contradicting Mahmoud’s declaration, telling a reporter point blank, “There is no Jan. 1 deadline.” She repeated the claim in a story published on December 1, 2016, saying flat out: “There is nothing contractual tied to the January 1 date. That was an initial in-service target date. The contractual dates are further out and pose no issue to the project.”

The two accounts of the deadline simply can’t be reconciled, and there is no indication that either newspaper story was corrected. Which raises two important questions: who is Dakota Access misleading, and why has it engaged in this kind of obfuscation?

Full item: Dakota Access Pipeline: Misleading the Court, the Public, or Both?

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