Judge orders Dakota Access shut down for environmental review

A federal judge has ordered that the Dakota Access oil pipeline be temporarily shut down by Aug. 5 for an in-depth environmental review of the project, Kallansh Energy reports.

That order came from U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in what was a major setback for the Trump administration and the controversial pipeline and a major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux and environmentalists

His order calls for the rare shutting down of a pipeline that has been operating for more than three years.

The pipeline would have to be closed and drained until the environmental report can be completed. That could take more than a year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said.

An immediate appeal is expected by the Trump administration and Energy Transfer, the company behind the pipeline.

The company in a statement called the order “an ill-thought-out decision by the court that should be quickly remedied.” It argued that the ruling is not supported by law or facts and that the judge exceeded his authority.

Shutting the pipeline would have major impacts and Energy Transfer said it will aggressively fight that order.

It said it will file a motion to stay that order and potentially to seek an appeal from a federal appeals court.

Industry groups expressed shock at Boasberg’s order.

In the decision, Boasberg, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, vacated an easement granted by the Corps of Engineers that allowed Dakota Access to build a segment of the pipeline beneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota and South Dakota.

He had previously ruled that the Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted the easement because it had failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement.

Last March, Boasberg said that the Corps of Engineers made what he called a “highly controversial” decision when it approved federal permits for the pipeline.

There were “serious gaps in crucial parts of the Corps’ analysis” in its previous review, he said.

He ordered the agency to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement, saying it had failed to answer major questions including the possibility of oil spills in its previous review.

The project was controversial and triggered major protests by Native Americans and supporters in North Dakota in late 2016 and early 2017. There were 760 arrests.

The $3.8 billion pipeline runs through four states.

In June 2017, the pipeline began shipping crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois where it connects to existing pipelines.

The 1,170-mile pipeline is moving about 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day to the Midwest and the Gulf Coast.

This post appeared first on Kallanish Energy News.