Judge orders Dakota Access Pipeline shut down amidst review
In a major decision affecting the oil industry and Indian tribes, a federal judge today ordered the owners to shut down an underground crude oil pipeline that begins in the shale oil fields of northwest North Dakota and continues through South Dakota and Iowa to an oil terminal near Patoka, Ill.,
Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline shut down by August 5 on the grounds that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement to Dakota Access, LLC to construct and operate the pipeline beneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota without an Environmental Impact Statement “despite conditions that triggered such a requirement.”
The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes had sued the Corps to invalidate federal permits allowing the pipeline to carry oil under the reservoir, located behind a dam on the Missouri River and stretching between North and South Dakota.
“The shutdown will remain in place pending completion of a full environmental review, which normally takes several years, and the issuance of new permits. It may be up to a new administration to make final permitting decisions,” Earthjustice said in a news release.
“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” said Chairman Mike Faith of the tribe. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
“It took four long years, but today justice has been served at Standing Rock,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the tribe. “If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on.”
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said, “The Dakota Access Pipeline is vital energy infrastructure for North Dakota and our nation. The pipeline is equipped with the latest safeguards and technology, and after undergoing years of thorough state regulatory reviews and an extensive federal environmental assessment, it has been operating safely since 2017.”
“Today’s district court ruling comes at a very difficult time because it will severely impact our state’s economy at the same time we are working to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hoeven said.
“We anticipate the company will appeal the decision to the Circuit Court which should allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue to operate while the Army Corps of Engineers works to finalize its environmental impact statement.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said, “Shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline would have devastating consequences to North Dakota and to America’s energy security. This terrible ruling should be promptly appealed.”
–The Hagstrom Report
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