Dakota Access Pipeline complete, readying for operations

This aerial photo shows North Dakota Highway 1806, at left, where it crosses Cannonball River and Dakota Access pipeline protest camps on both sides of the river Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, N.D. A federal judge on Monday refused to stop construction on the last stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline. It’s the last big section of the $3.8 billion pipeline, which would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

Energy Transfer Partners has finished construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a spokeswoman confirmed, and is now filling the line with crude to prepare it for service in mid-April.

Dakota Access was the focus of heated protests and sometimes violent clashes with authorities for months last year. Environmentalists saw it as a symbol of global warming and the proliferation of fossil fuel use. The Standing Rock Sioux, who tapped the Missouri River for tribal water, argued that the pipeline’s river crossing threatened the tribe’s main water source, and also traversed sacred burial grounds.

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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 1,200-mile pipeline stretches from Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Ill. Energy Transfer Partners expects it to take a few more weeks to fill the line with oil. Then the company will fill the next line in the system, the $1-billion, 750-mile Energy Transfer Crude Oil project, which runs from Patoka to refineries in Nederland, Texas near Beaumont.

The company expects the full Bakken system to be in service by June 1, the spokeswoman said.