| NEW YORK, Sept 13
NEW YORK, Sept 13 The company building a
pipeline to transport oil from North Dakota to the U.S. Gulf
Coast said on Tuesday it remained committed to completing
construction even after the U.S. Justice Department blocked the
project while Native Americans and other protesters geared up
for another day of demonstrations.
"We are committed to completing construction and safely
operating the Dakota Access Pipeline within the confines of the
law," Kelcy Warren, chairman and chief executive officer of
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, said in the
letter to employees, which was provided to media.
The U.S. Justice Department on Friday blocked construction
along a 40-mile stretch in North Dakota, following the protests
that have attracted numerous celebrities and politicians. The
Obama administration decided to block construction on federal
land shortly after a U.S. District Court judge rejected a
request from Native Americans for a court order to block the
The 1,100-mile (1,770 km), $3.7 billion pipeline had been
originally expected to start up later this year. But the
Standing Rock Sioux, whose tribal lands are a half-mile south of
the proposed route, have said the pipeline could pollute the
tribe's drinking water and desecrate sacred burial and prayer
Protests against the pipeline were planned for Tuesday from
coast to coast. In more than 30 U.S. states, demonstrators
planned to gather for what activists dubbed on social media as a
national "Day of Action" against the pipeline. Many used the
hashtag #NoDAPL to show their opposition.
In what was likely to be the most closely watched protest,
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was due to join a demonstration
at 5 p.m. ET outside the White House in Washington.
Outside the United States, activists said on social media
they planned to hold protests in countries including Britain,
Spain, South Korea and New Zealand.
The pipeline is nearly 60 percent complete, the company's
letter said; Energy Transfer has spent $1.6 billion so far on
equipment, materials and the workforce. When fully connected to
existing lines, the line would be the first to carry crude oil
from the Bakken shale directly to the U.S. Gulf.
"We intend to meet with officials in Washington to
understand their position and reiterate our commitment to bring
the Dakota Access Pipeline into operation," Warren added.
Protesters have said the pipeline could leak oil into the
Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers, on which the tribe relies for
(Reporting by Catherine Ngai; Editing by David Gregorio)