Sunrise over Lake Oahe in North Dakota. (Indigenous / Twitter)

Energy Transfer Partners, the development firm behind the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), announced Monday that oil had been placed in the pipeline underneath Lake Oahe and will begin to flow in the coming weeks. The Associated Press reports:

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners made the announcement in a brief court filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The announcement marks a significant development in the long battle over the project that will move North Dakota oil 2000 miles (1930 kilometers) through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The pipeline is three months behind schedule due to large protests and the objections of two American Indian tribes who say it threatens their water supply and cultural sites.

ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado said in an email to The Associated Press that the line will deliver oil to Patoka, Illinois, within a few weeks.

“Oil has been placed in the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath Lake Oahe. Dakota Access is currently commissioning the full pipeline and is preparing to place the pipeline into service,” the court filing stated.

Numerous indigenous tribes rely on Lake Oahe as a sole source of water, and their fight against the DAPL continues in court. As Truthdig reported last week, the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe are currently engaged in legal proceedings to stop the oil from flowing.

“My people are here today because we have survived in the face of the worst kind of challenges,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier stated Monday in response to Energy Transfer Partners’ announcement. “The fact that oil is flowing under our life-giving waters is a blow, but it hasn’t broken us. Our legal fight is very much alive and we believe that ultimately we will prevail.”

AP adds that Energy Transfer Partners is “preparing to put the pipeline into service.” Lawyer Tracey Zephier, who is working on one of the legal cases against the pipeline for the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, noted that a primary lawsuit will likely be heard in April and decided by late April or early May.

“The federal government had this responsibility to us, and they have not upheld it,” Zephier told Truthdig. “By no means does anyone feel defeated,” she continued. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

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