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North Dakota State Regulators and Energy Transfer Partners Find Novel Way Out of Dispute

North Dakota State Regulators and Energy Transfer Partners Find Novel Way Out of Dispute (Dmitrijs Kaminskis / Shutterstock)

North Dakota regulators and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) have reached an agreement concerning allegations that the Dallas - based company violated state rules during construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Rather than being charged with a hefty fine, the regulators stipulated that ETP will develop a "how-to" manual for managing unanticipated discoveries in sensitive tribal areas. In addition the company will plant over 100,000 trees to replace those that ETP allegedly destroyed excavating earth while laying the pipe.

"This really is not as much about the monetary amount as it is about awareness and influencing future behavior," Commissioner Brian Kroshus said, adding that he believes the provisions of the settlement will cost ETP in excess of $100,000.

Dakota Access also will be required to distribute the manual to all North Dakota pipeline companies, conduct training at the next Williston Basin Petroleum Conference and pay for a speaker to present to State Historic Preservation Office staff in Bismarck.

ETP has denied doing anything intentionally wrong and fought disciplinary action by the Public Service Commission for months, during which the commission held three executive sessions on the matter that were closed to the public. The settlement negotiations also were slowed by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. ETP has facilities on the Gulf Coast, and the company dedicated about 1,000 employees to a hurricane response team.

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