Energy & Environment

Dakota Access pipeline shutdown temporarily halted

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An impending shutdown of the Dakota Access pipeline has been halted in a small win for the project, which has recently faced court setbacks. 

A Tuesday appeals court order stalled a district court decision ordering the pipeline to cease operations by Aug. 5, saying it needs more time to consider a motion to prevent the shutdown. 

“The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion,” the new order said

Last week, a lower court said the pipeline had to be temporarily shut down while the Army Corps of Engineers works to prepare an environmental impact statement for a rule relaxation that allowed the project to cross the Missouri river.

That same court had previously determined that the Army Corps of Engineers violated environmental laws when it allowed the Dakota Access pipeline to proceed. 

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.

Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who is representing the tribe, said in a statement that “an administrative stay is not in any way indicative of how the court is going to rule — it just buys the court a little additional time to make a decision.”

“We look forward to the opportunity to explain why the district court got this right,” Hasselman said.

President Trump directed a permit for the pipeline, which was completed in 2017, to be issued during his first week in office, reversing an Obama administration decision to deny the permit. 

The court cited the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its decision that the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t follow environmental rules. Trump is expected to announce the finalization to a rollback to NEPA on Wednesday.

–This report was updated at 1:11 p.m.

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