Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Supreme Court reinstates fast-track pipeline permit except for Keystone XL | Judge declines to reverse Dakota Access Pipeline shutdown


HAPPY TUESDAY! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.

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SO MUCH PIPELINE NEWS: The Supreme Court on Monday reinstated the use of a permit that’s used to fast-track pipeline construction, except in the case of the Keystone XL pipeline.

A lower court ruled in April that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not follow environmental requirements when it reissued the permit, known as Nationwide Permit 12, preventing it from being used across the country. But on Monday, the high court allowed the permit to go back into effect for most pipelines. 

However, it refused to renew the use of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which was the subject of the original case. 

Pipeline company TC Energy said in a statement on the ruling that it would still be “fully committed” to the Keystone pipeline but also said it would continue to “evaluate our 2020 U.S. scope.”

“While today’s ruling from the Supreme Court is positive for the oil and gas industry overall, it continues to delay large portions of construction on our Keystone XL project and the thousands of high-paying union jobs that come with it.,” the company said. 

Opponents of the Keystone pipeline characterized the Supreme Court ruling as a setback for the project even though other pipelines can now use the permit. 

“Today’s ruling makes clear that the builders of Keystone XL can’t rely on a flawed, rubber-stamped permit to force the project’s construction through our wetlands, streams, and rivers,” said a statement from Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Cecilia Segal. “It’s a resounding victory for the communities and imperiled species living along this pipeline’s proposed route. Keystone XL is not in our national interest and should never be built.”

On Sunday, Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced they would cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s construction and cited the previous ruling in its decision.

Following the Monday night news, some called for the companies to change their minds. 

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision comes on the heels of a deeply disappointing announcement Sunday to halt construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – a shortsighted move that will cost West Virginians more than 1,500 jobs. If ever there was a time to revisit a decision, this would be it,” said a statement from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R). 

However, a Duke Energy spokesperson told The Hill in an email that the ruling does not change Sunday’s announcement.

The story is here. 

AND A LITTLE MORE: A federal judge on Tuesday declined to reverse his decision ordering the Dakota Access Pipeline to be shut down.

Obama appointee James Boasberg declined a request from Dakota Access LLC to immediately stay his Monday decision, but added that the court will“set a status hearing on the matter when it receives certain documents from the company. 

Boasberg on Monday said that the pipeline had to temporarily shut down by Aug. 5 while the Army Corps of Engineers works to prepare an environmental impact statement for a rule relaxation granted to the project. 

In a filing after the decision, Dakota Access argued that his order should be halted because “the Court’s decision requires Dakota Access to begin shutting down a major interstate pipeline.”

“As a result, Dakota Access would need to undertake a number of expensive steps before it is likely to have a ruling on the forthcoming stay motion,” the company said. 

However, tribes challenging the  pipeline disagreed, saying in their own filing that the company did not do enough to show that the stay was necessary or try to work with the challengers to reach an agreement. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued over the controversial pipeline, which crosses native lands and has drawn protesters from across the country, in 2016. 

Boasberg had previously ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers had violated environmental laws when it gave Dakota Access an easement to construct a segment of the pipeline. 

In ordering the shutdown, he wrote that the “seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow.”

The story is here

YOU’VE GOT MAIL: Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) waded into the “Sharpiegate” dispute on Tuesday, urging the Commerce Department to “cease obstructing” the release of a watchdog report on the incident. 

“In light of the protracted discussions that already appear to have occurred between Commerce and the IG on this issue, should Commerce not provide such information in a good faith manner by the specified date, we believe the IG will be fully within her authority to release the report without further delay, in whatever form she deems necessary and appropriate,” they wrote, referring to Commerce Inspector General Peggy Gustafson. 

Gustafson last week released a memo accusing the department of holding up the report by declining to identify specific information that should be withheld when it is published. 

In response, the Commerce officials said in their  own memo that the department provided “sensible” redactions and write-arounds. That memo accused the watchdog of rejecting proposed redactions, although Gustafson pushed back, telling The Hill in a statement that the department only made suggestions for withholding tha related to the report’s appendices. 


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