Court Orders Shutdown and Removal of Oil From the Dakota Access Pipeline

06 Juillet, 2020, 22:26 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Activists gather outside the Army Corps of Engineers Office to protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline

A federal court on Monday ruled that the Dakota Access pipeline must shut down by August 5 while the government performs a more thorough environmental review of the project.

"Following multiple twists and turns in this long-running litigation, this Court recently found that Defendant U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement to Defendant-Intervenor Dakota Access, LLC to construct and operate a segment of that crude-oil pipeline running beneath the lake", said the opinion from U.S. District Judge James Boasberg.

In a 24-page order Monday, Boasberg wrote that he was "mindful of the disruption such a shutdown will cause", but said he had concluded that the pipeline must be shut down.

The environmental review for the pipeline, which has been in operation for three years, must be completed within 30 days, according to the judge's order.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation lies downstream of the pipeline, have been fighting against its construction for years. Protesters camped for months on federal lands through the winter of 2016-2017 to block the project's completion, saying the pipeline would endanger the drinking water sources of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

The pipeline extends more than 1,000 miles from North Dakota to IL - but the issue is the portion of the project that is buried under the Missouri River. The tribe is anxious that the construction and possible oil leaks would lead to the destruction of its sacred sites and pollute its land and water. Texas-based Energy Transfer insists the pipeline is safe.

The Trump administration saw the pipeline as a key tool in achieving US energy independence by providing a way to efficiently transport more oil from the prolific Bakken shale formation to US Midcontinent and Gulf Coast refineries.

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It didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment about Boasberg's ruling.

'I think there's a lot of questions about the authority of this liberal district court judge to make such a significant ruling, ' Ness said of Boasberg, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama. He says the Dakota Access Pipeline has become a critical piece of American petroleum infrastructure and the decision is bad news for North Dakota and the nation.

Before the coronavirus pandemic devastated the United States oil industry, daily oil production in North Dakota - the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas - was at a near-record 1.45 million barrels daily.

Before the coronavirus pandemic devastated the US oil industry, daily oil production in North Dakota - the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas - was at a near-record 1.45 million barrels daily.

"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", the tribe's chairman, Mike Faith, said in a statement.

The Corps had planned for a full environmental review in 2017 after the Obama administration rejected permits for the project. The state's output has slipped to below one million barrels daily thanks to low energy prices and sparse demand.

The agency had said the pipeline posed no significant environmental issues after an additional year of review, as ordered by the court.

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