North Dakota landowners sue over pipeline easement payments

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By Timothy Mclaughlin

<span class="articleLocation”>Over a dozen landowners in North Dakota have
filed a lawsuit against a company involved in the development of
the Dakota Access Pipeline, charging they were misled into
accepting unfair compensation for allowing the pipeline to cross
their land, according to court documents.

Dakota Access LLC used false statements to get some
landowners in Morton County, North Dakota, to accept less money
than others for the necessary easements, according to the
lawsuit, filed Jan. 6 in U.S. District Court of North Dakota in

The landowners are seeking $4 million in damages from Dakota
Access, court documents said.

“We feel the allegations are without merit,” Vicki Granado,
a spokeswoman for Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners,
parent company of Dakota Access, said by email.

The company secured easements from 800 landowners in North
Dakota for the project, she said.

The $3.8 billion pipeline has faced months of protests from
Native Americans and environmental activists who say it
threatens water resources and sacred lands.

“Dakota Access’s statements were false, misleading, and
unfair statements designed to induce the Morton County
landowners to sign the easement agreements at a lower price than
other Morton County landowners,” the complaint said.

An attorney representing the landowners was not immediately
available for comment.

Most landowners named in the suit were offered $216 per rod,
a unit of measurement used in land surveying that is equal to
16.5 feet(5 m), in August 2014 for land easements.

Dakota Access, the court documents said, told the landowners
that if they did not agree to the amount offered they faced
losing money, having their land taken by eminent domain or that
the pipeline would be rerouted. The landowners agreed to the

However, other landowners in Morton County, through which 71 miles of the pipeline runs, were paid has much as $2,000 per
rod, the suit said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Army began the process of launching
an environmental study of the pipeline’s path under Lake Oahe, a
reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

A December denial of the easement under the lake was a major
victory for those opposed to the project, and members of the
Standing Rock Sioux tribe called on protesters to disband.

However, some have remained and clashed again with law
enforcement this week, and dozens have been arrested.

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