Energy Transfer to appeal DAPL shutdown
A Federal Judge has given the Dakota Access Pipeline 30 days to be shut down.
The Court ruled more environmental reviews must be done before its expansion and use can continue. In a surprising decision, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia James Boasberg said that this move was the only appropriate remedy. He says the Corps of Engineers did not adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of the pipeline.
The Judge didn’t rule the pipeline illegal outright. Rather, ruling the permitting process was insufficient. Now Energy Transfer Partners must empty the pipeline by August 5.
Judge Boasberg acknowledged the market’s struggles and it’s possible economic effect on North Dakota’s economy. However, he decided it wasn’t enough to justify the pipeline’s continuation.
Writing, “…given the seriousness of the Corps’ (National Environmental Policy Act) error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease.”
In a statement, Energy Transfer said the decision isn’t based on the law nor facts of the case.
Adding, “we believe Judge Boasberg has exceeded his authority in ordering the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been safely operating for more than three years.”
Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission, which has overseen much of the permitting process, must watch a pipeline they approved get shut down.
“The oil that’s produced in North Dakota is currently transported on Dakota Access system, which is a substantial amount of our production and probably more than half of the state’s production today transports through that system, that will find other avenues,” said Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.
The most likely path for oil transport will be crude by rail. In the decision, Energy Transfer noted “There is no viable pipeline alternative for transporting the 570,000 barrels of Bakken crude that DAPL is capable of carrying each day,” and that railroads won’t be enough to fill the gaps.
However, Fedorchak said the rail system will be able to carry the load.
This ruling comes at a time when oil markets are on a slight rebound, but continuing their months-long price dive; trading at $40 per barrel Monday morning.
The decision notes that Dakota Access’ argument that DAPL could lose upwards of $643 Million for the rest of the year, and another $1.4 billion in 2021 as a result of a court-ordered shut down.
While this comes as a win for Standing Rock and environmental groups, North Dakota’s Washington Delegation is voicing their disapproval of the ruling.
For the past few months, things seemed to be going to the pipeline’s favor. Back in February, the State’s Public Service Commission approved plans for a pumping station near Linton that would expand the pipeline’s capacity to more than 1 million barrels a day.
While the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline must stop its flow, the decision isn’t permanent.
The company said they will be appealing the decision. And even then, a new environmental impact report could have similar results to the first one, and the permits could be re-instated by the end of the year.
Standing Rock Leaders say they didn’t stop fighting for Monday’s ruling
Monday, a federal judge ruled the 1,172 mile Dakota Access Pipeline must shut down by August 5 while an environmental review is conducted.
Four years ago, this land behind me was home to a camp that contained more than 15,000 people, protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Now many of those people are celebrating a victory that was part of a ruling by federal Judge James Boasberg on Monday in Washington DC
“We can breathe a little easier knowing that this pipeline will hopefully be shut down in 30 days,” says Doug Crow Ghost, Director of Department of Water Resources for Standing Rock.
After years of being a voice for his tribe, former Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II is celebrating the court decision.
“To finally, after so many years hear the court say that ‘you guys are right’ it’s just a good feeling, it just validates the hard work that everybody put into trying to point out our position,” says Archambault II.
In Fort Yates, Crow Ghost knows first-hand the impacts the pipeline could have on the tribe’s freshwater.
“My six year old said, but if there’s oil in it dad, what would it look like then? And those are questions that I’m still getting today,” says Crow Ghost.
Now he says some of those worries are being addressed.
“I can tell my child that well we might not have to worry about whether there is oil in the water. Because they’re going to shut down this pipeline underneath it and maybe find another route,” says Crow Ghost.
The tribe says they recognize the industries loss but say there are other alternatives.
“It’s unfortunate for those individuals who work for that industry because that’s their livelihood and everyone needs to support their families but there are other routes and other ways we can support families like that, like new and renewable energy sources,” says Allyson Two Bears, Director of the Department of Environmental Regulations for Standing Rock.
With Monday’s ruling they know an appeal from the Pipeline or Army Corp of Engineers will follow.
“We also know the President of the United States will try to weigh-in, but we know it’s a federal judge and a federal action, you cannot write an executive order on a federal judgment,” says Crow Ghost.
However, they hope a final decision regarding the transportation of half a million barrels of oil a day will come soon.
“It’s still something temporary and we just hope that whenever this all plays out that it is a permanent stoppage,” says Archambault II.
Standing Rock Tribal members say they hope the federal ruling will help the tribe mend broken relationships with those who have opposing views.
They’re now relying on the Army Corp of Engineers to prepare a comprehensive environmental impact statement as directed by Judge Boasberg.
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Read More: Energy Transfer to appeal DAPL shutdown, tribes rejoice over judge’s decision