Another Pipeline Surprise: Dakota Site Is Shut Down

Federal judge says Dakota Access Pipeline must cease, at least temporarily
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2020 11:33 AM CDT
Another Pipeline Surprise: Dakota Site Is Shut Down
In this Oct. 5, 2016, file photo, heavy equipment is seen at a site where sections of the Dakota Access pipeline were being buried near the town of St. Anthony in Morton County, ND.   (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

For three years, the Dakota Access pipeline has been bearing oil from a North Dakota shale basin to Illinois, per a 2017 permit granted by President Trump to do so. Now, a federal judge has delivered what Bloomberg calls a "stunning defeat" to the Trump administration and the oil industry, ordering the pipeline shut down by Aug. 5 until an environmental review is completed. (It's the second pipeline surprise in 24 hours.) In a Monday ruling, US District Judge James Boasberg said the permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers that allowed the pipeline to operate while a comprehensive environmental analysis took place didn't meet requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. It's a victory for Native American demonstrators and environmentalists who'd battled the project for years, citing dangers to tribal water supplies and cultural resources.

"Given the seriousness of the Corps' NEPA 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," wrote Boasberg, siding with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, per CNBC. "Stunning," tweeted Standing Rock attorney Jan Hasselman after the ruling. The AP notes that when the pipeline was being built, it was the site of multiple protests, some violent, near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on the North Dakota-South Dakota border. It's not clear whether the Army Corps, Justice Department, or Energy Transfer will appeal. The Army Corps says it hopes to finish its court-ordered analysis by mid-2021. (More Dakota Access Pipeline stories.)

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