Timeline, North Dakota, DAPL

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Questions and answers about the Dakota Access Pipeline project, including the project timeline in North Dakota.
(Published 27 November 2016; updated 4 December)



December 2014: Energy Transfer Partners LP files intent to build a 1,172-mile, 570,000 barrel-per-day pipeline delivering crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields to Patoka, Illinois, crossing South Dakota and Iowa. This kicked off a year of public hearings in North Dakota.

January 2016: ND regulators unanimously approve the pipeline

March 11: “Crossings of the Missouri River have the potential to affect the primary source of drinking water for much of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Tribal nations” ( EPA public comments). The EPA recommended that the Corps undertake a new draft environmental assessment.



March 29: “We believe the Corps did not adequately justify or otherwise support its conclusion that there would be no significant impacts upon the surrounding environment and community” (Department of the Interior public comments). Interior recommended that the Corps undertake government-to-government consultation with the Sioux.


April 29: The Corps held a hearing for Native Americans. According to local media reports, opposition was almost unanimous.


May 19: “Based on the inadequacies of the tribal consultation and the limited scope for identification of historic properties that may be affected, the ACHP questions the sufficiency of the Corps’ identification effort, its determinations of eligibility, and assessments of effect” (Advisory Council on Historic Preservation public comments).


July 25: The Corps environmental assessment found “no significant impact.”

July 26: The Corps of Engineers approved three easements (a process that allows someone to access to someone else’s property) that allowed the pipeline to cross waterways at Sakakawea, the Mississippi River, and Lake Oahe. Lake Oahe, approximately half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation, is an ancestral site for the Standing Rock Sioux. The Corps approved 200 water crossings.

July 27: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the Corps, citing violation of multiple federal statutes. The tribe also alleged the pipeline threatens sites of historic, religious and cultural significance. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation had expressed those concerns in public comment on the draft environmental assessment.


August 3: Final Environmental Assessment for federal lands impacted in North Dakota, prepared by Dakota Access, Inc. of Houston, TX

The ES references nine endangered species in North Dakota:

  • Black-footed Ferret (endangered) – no effect
  • Dakota Skipper (threatened) – no effect
  • Gray Wolf (endangered) – no effect
  • Interior Least Tern (endangered) – may affect, not likely to adversely affect
  • Northern Long-eared Bat (threatened) – no effect
  • Pallid Sturgeon (threatened) – may affect, not likely to adversely affect
  • Piping Plove (threatened) – may affect, not likely to adversely affect
  • Rufa Red Knot (threatened) – may affect, not likely to adversely affect
  • Whooping Crane (endangered) – may affect, not likely to adversely affect

August 25: The Corps confirmed to the Bismark Tribune that it had not yet granted easements for pipeline construction on Corps property. A police roadblock on Highway 1806 near Mandan allegedly “detours anyone going home to the reservation, but gives access to everyone else north of the reservation.” Tribes also protested airplane surveillance.


September 3: Energy Transfer Partners hired private security guards who used attack dogs and mace on the water protectors.

September 8: Amy Goodman, a journalist with Democracy Now who had been covering the protests, learned that Morton County, North Dakota law enforcement had issued a warrant for her arrest. McLean County State Attorney Ladd Erickson claimed that Goodman was a protestor, not a journalist. As The Nation noted:

According to Erickson, a woman who appeared at a protest carrying a microphone emblazoned with the name Democracy Now! and trailing a video crew; who can be heard in the resulting video report identifying herself to a security guard as a reporter; and who then broadcast the video on the daily news program she has hosted for 20 years is not actually a journalist.

September 8: North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered the National Guard to protect the pipeline south of Bismark.

September 9: U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected the Sioux request to block the project but ruled that no construction activity could take place between Highway 1806 and 20 miles to the east of Lake Oahe.

September 9: Less than an hour after Boasberg’s decision, the Justice Department, Interior Department, and Army ordered construction near Lake Oahe to stop pending Corps review of its decisions.

September 22: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples called for a halt to construction due to it “pos[ing] a significant risk to the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and threaten[ing] to destroy their burial grounds and sacred sites.”


October 11: Activists in four states disrupted the flow of millions of gallons of oil running between Canada in the U.S.

October 17: A North Dakota judge rejected the charges against Goodman, which had been changed from criminal trespassing to rioting, both misdemeanors.


November 14: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded “more study was needed” before granting the easement needed to drill under the Missouri River.

November 20: Law enforcement use water hoses, tear gas at Standing Rock. A young woman from New York was severely injured; witnesses place the blame at the hands of law enforcement which denies the charges. There are few media at Standing Rock to provide third party documentation.

November 27: New reports of police violence against journalists.

November 27: The Corps issues another statement about closing down the camp.

The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking a peaceful and orderly transition to a safer location, and has no plans for forcible removal. But those who choose to stay do so at their own risk as emergency, fire, medical, and law enforcement response cannot be adequately provided in these areas.

November 29: State officials announced that they will “fine anyone bringing prohibited items into the main protest camp … Officers will stop vehicles they believe are headed to the camp and inform drivers they are committing an infraction and could be fined $1,000.”


December 1: Trump endorses the DAPL.

December 4: A group of U.S. veterans are planning to join the Standing Rock protests.

December 4: The Corps announced that it would not issue an easement for the North Dakota crossing and would begin a full environmental impact statement. ETP said that the pipeline is 92 percent complete overall and 99 percent complete in North Dakota.

December 5: US Army Corps of Engineers deadline for protestors to leave the main camp.

Featured image
Rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline, St. Paul. MN, September 13, 2016 – Flickr CC Licensed photo