The North Dakota Public Service Commission met for an hour behind closed doors Friday to discuss its pending enforcement actions regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Members of the three-member regulatory board said the reason for the executive session was to consult with their attorneys. They took no action following the closed session.

Dakota Access is challenging the procedural steps that the Public Service Commission took in its complaint case regarding the company’s failure to notify the commission about cultural artifacts discovered in the pipeline route.

The company did notify the State Historic Preservation Office about stone cairns and other artifacts discovered in the pipeline route in Morton County and rerouted the pipeline to avoid the artifacts. But the commission alleges Dakota Access violated conditions of the permit by failing to also notify regulators. Commissioners later learned about the discovery from a third-party inspector.

The matter was scheduled for a hearing on Aug. 16, but that is now delayed while Dakota Access challenges the procedure the Public Service Commission is using to handle the complaint. Attorneys for both sides are going to file legal briefs by the end of September to outline their arguments.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said it’s possible the commission will schedule a public meeting to discuss Dakota Access in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, a 8:30 a.m. Aug. 17 hearing is scheduled regarding an investigation into whether Dakota Access removed too many trees and shrubs during construction of the pipeline in North Dakota. The meeting will be streamed online at psc.nd.gov.

(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or Amy.Dalrymple@bismarcktribune.com)

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