Three state regulators that make up the North Dakota Public Service Commission decided on Wednesday to hold hearings in July or August on back-to-back days, in order to determine if Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners improperly removed trees and shrubbery along its Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) path, RT reported.
The meeting came one day before the DAPL is expected to begin moving oil from North Dakota into South Dakota, Iowa and ultimately Illinois for distribution. The company behind the $3.8 billion project maintains it broke no rules during construction.
While no Native artifacts have been reported damaged, the commission holds that Energy Transfer Partners should have come to it first before constructing around artifacts, as mandated. The commission also cited a third-party inspector that found ETP removed too many shrubs and trees along 380 miles of the pipeline in North Dakota.
ETP, which believes its clearance from the State Historic Preservation Office was enough, could be fined tens of thousands of dollars or appeal a punishment in state court, AP reported. ETP also claims to have a plan to replace every removed tree with two new ones, or about 94,000 of them.