UPDATE: Energy Transfer LP, the company that owns the Dakota Access Pipeline, said Wednesday that it has no plans to shut the pipeline down, despite a federal ruling issued Monday.
“We are not shutting in the line,” Energy Transfer spokeswoman Vicki Granado said in an email, according to Bloomberg. Granado added that the company believes Judge James E. Boasberg, who issued the ruling “exceeded his authority and does not have the jurisdiction to shut down the pipeline or stop the flow of crude oil.”
Bloomberg notes that Energy Transfer said later it “has no intention of defying Boasberg’s order,” which means an appeal could soon be in order. It could also potentially be blocked by a higher court. Either way, Energy Transfer seems confident they’ll be able to continue operating the pipeline. They even scheduled more shipments.
Original story below.
The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline will be forced to shut down by August 5th so a full environmental review can be conducted, the Washington Post reports.
Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued the order in a ruling Monday, saying the Army Corps of Engineers had not met all of the requirements outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act. Specifically, Judge Boasberg ruled that the agency had failed to adequately assess the extent to which an oil spill could impact the Missouri River, which provides water for the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
In a statement, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Mike Faith said, “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. This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline opened in 2017, after it sparked massive protests the previous fall and winter over its proximity to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. While former President Barack Obama had slowed down construction on the DAP, President Donald Trump reversed that decision almost immediately after taking office. The DAP now carries 570,000 barrels of oil from the Bakken shale basin in North Dakota to Illinois.
In his ruling, Judge Boasberg acknowledged the disruption to business caused by shutting down the pipeline, but said, “the seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow” (per NPR, the environmental review could take up to 13 months). Elsewhere, Judge Boasberg stated, ‘[G]iven the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease.”
While Judge Boasberg’s ruling was a landmark win for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, it will likely be appealed. Per The Associated Press, Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, called the decision “shocking” and said, “I think there’s a lot of questions about the authority of this liberal district court judge to make such a significant ruling.”