Court orders Dakota Access Pipeline to shut down
A court has ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to shut down, delivering a victory for tribes that have opposed it.
Judge James Boasberg on Monday ruled that the pipeline has to be shut down within 30 days while the Army Corps of Engineers works to prepare an environmental impact statement for a rule relaxation that allowed it to cross the Missouri river.
The court had ruled already that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated environmental laws when it gave Dakota Access an easement to construct a segment of the pipeline.
The new decision determined that the easement should be overturned while the government works to rectify the situation.
“Clear precedent favoring vacatur during such a remand coupled with the seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow for the thirteen months that the Corps believes the creation of an [environmental impact statement] will take,” wrote Boasberg, an Obama appointee.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has sued over the controversial pipeline, which crosses native lands and has drawn protesters from across the country. The 1,200-mile project carries oil from North Dakota to Illinois.
“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,” tribe chairman Mike Faith said in a statement. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
Pipeline company Energy Transfer said in a statement that the ruling is “not supported by the law or the facts of the case” and that the judge went beyond his authority in ordering the shutdown.
“We will be immediately pursuing all available legal and administrative processes and are confident that once the law and full record are fully considered Dakota Access Pipeline will not be shut down and that oil will continue to flow,” the company said. “Shutting down this critical piece of infrastructure would throw our country’s crude supply system out of balance, negatively impact several significant industries, inflict more damage on an already struggling economy, and jeopardize our national security.”
The Army Corps did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
Neither pipeline operator TC Energy nor the Army Corps immediately responded to The Hill’s request for comment.
However, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette slammed the decision in a statement.
“It is disappointing that, once again, an energy infrastructure project that provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic revenue has been shut down by the well-funded environmental lobby, using our Nation’s court system to further their agenda,” said the top U.S. energy official.
President Trump directed a permit for the pipeline to be issued during his first week in office, reversing an Obama administration decision to deny the permit.
Pipeline construction was completed in 2017.
The Trump administration is working to roll back part of the National Environmental Policy Act, on which Boasberg’s decision was based. The law requires an environmental review of projects like pipelines.
The Monday decision follows the recently announced cancellation of the separate Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have carried natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina.
Updated at 3:38 p.m.
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