Energy Transfer Partners oil pipeline that has fueled sustained public protests said on Thursday it has started drilling under a North Dakota lake despite a last-ditch legal challenge from a Native American tribe leading the opposition.
Energy Transfer Partners is building the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to move crude from the Northern Plains to the Midwest and then on to the Gulf of Mexico, now saying it could be operational by early May.
The project had been put on hold under former President Barack Obama, but new President has forced it forward.
The federal government this week cleared way for the project to resume, leading the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to file a court challenge on Thursday seeking a temporary restraining order to halt construction and drilling for the pipeline.
“This administration (Trump’s) has expressed utter and complete disregard for not only our treaty and water rights, but the environment as a whole,” the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said on Thursday in a statement on its website.
Public opposition drew thousands of people to the North Dakota plains last year including high-profile political and celebrity supporters. Large protest camps popped up near the site, leading to several violent clashes and some 700 arrests.