Oil is expected to flow through the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe this week and the parties to the conflict are now engaging in a post mortem discussion to improve the outcome of such projects in the future.
The protests focussed national attention to the flaws of the current consultation process — the federal government’s responsibilities to consult with tribes before approving major infrastructure projects that affect tribal lands — may still bear fruit on future disputes.
Assuming oil actually begins to flow, the 30-inch pipeline will carry more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day out of the Bakken region in North Dakota to market, mitigating the current process of carrying the oil out of the basin via trucks and rail cars.
One pressing outstanding issue is who is going to cover the costs of the protest clean up -- during the height of the revolt thousands of Americans were standing with the indigenous Sioux Indians to prevent the last segments of the pipeline from being constructed. The State of North Dakota estimated that it and local authorities have incurred more than $38 million in costs related to the policing of the protesters and cleanup of the mess they made at Oceti Sakowin and other protest camps.
The Governor's Office is discussing possible reimbursement from the federal government. No payments are expected from the ngos which organized resistance to the Dakota Access construction, as shortcomings in federal law deprive the government of any legal recourse.