Dakota Access Pipeline opens after storms, fights, months of delay

An oil drilling rig in the Bakken formation in North Dakota. (Matthew Staver/Bloomberg)

Dallas pipeline giant Energy Transfer Partners announced on Thursday that, after crippling winter storms, heated protests and months of delay, it is shipping crude oil on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The 1,200-mile pipeline connects the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota to Patoka, Ill., and then to refineries on the Gulf Coast. It was the subject of months of protests last year, which grew to thousands of people in size and, at times, drew clashes with police. Environmentalists saw it as a symbol of global warming and the proliferation of fossil fuel use. The Standing Rock Sioux, who tap the Missouri River for tribal water, argued that the pipeline traversed sacred burial grounds and threatened the tribe’s main water source.

RELATED: Standing Rock camps left mountains of trash; West Texas concerned

Late last year, President Barack Obama refused to approve the pipeline’s final connection, under the Missouri, and sent plans back to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for review. But President Donald Trump, fulfilling campaign promises, quickly reversed Obama’s decision after taking office.

The pipeline is a joint venture with Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum and Houston-based Enbridge Energy Partners and Phillips 66.

The full pipeline, from the Bakken to the Gulf, cost nearly $5 billion. It has commitments to ship about 520,000 barrels per day and could pipe as much as 570,000 barrels per day.

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