Energy groups slam Obama administration pipeline review

Energy groups slam Obama administration pipeline review

A coalition of energy and manufacturing groups is criticizing an Obama administration review of permitting decisions for a controversial pipeline project in North Dakota.

In a letter to three administration officials on Thursday, the groups took aim at the Army Corps of Engineers and the Departments of Justice and Interior, which are reviewing whether the corps followed proper procedure when it approved the Dakota Access Pipeline over the summer. 

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While the three agencies review the decision, they are withholding an easement that would allow construction of the $3.7 billion pipeline on a stretch of federal land in North Dakota.

That decision, the group said, is improper and “effectively ignore[s] the rule of law in an attempt to halt infrastructure development.”

“When your agencies upend or modify the results of a full and fair regulatory process for an infrastructure project, these actions do not merely impact a single company,” wrote the groups, a collection that includes the American Petroleum Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and 17 others.

“The industries that manufacture and develop the infrastructure, the labor that builds it, and the American consumers that depend on it all suffer.”

A federal judge approved the permitting process for the Dakota Access Pipeline last month. Even so, a North Dakota tribe has sued against the project, saying it threatens cultural heritage sites and drinking water supplies in the region. 

The dispute over the pipeline — like those that came before it — has galvanized both green groups in opposition and the energy and manufacturing sectors in support. Administration officials have said a final decision on the easement, for a section of federal land spanning the Missouri River, will come within weeks.