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Court Rules Dakota Access Pipeline Must Shut Down by August 5 in Blow for Trump
The Dakota Access pipeline must shut down by Aug. 5, a district court ruled Monday in a stunning defeat for the Trump administration and the oil industry.
The decision, which shuts the pipeline during a court-ordered environmental review that’s expected to extend into 2021, is a momentous win for American Indian tribes that have opposed the Energy Transfer LP project for years. It comes just a day after Dominion Energy Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. scuttled another project, the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline, after years of legal delays.
Environmentalists have increasingly used the courts to try to block additional investment in fossil fuel infrastructure while they push for a clean energy transition. Tribes, landowners, and other project opponents have also complained about local impacts from construction and potential spills on or near their land.
The sophisticated legal onslaught has led to delays and disruptions for several other pipelines, including Keystone XL. But Monday’s court order, if upheld on appeal, marks the first time a major, in-service oil pipeline will be forced to shutter because of environmental concerns.
Energy Transfer said it’s “immediately pursuing all available legal and administrative processes” to challenge the decision.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said a crucial federal permit for Dakota Access fell too far short of National Environmental Policy Act requirements to allow the pipeline to continue operating while regulators conduct a broader analysis the court ordered in a previous decision.
The ruling scraps a critical permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, and requires the pipeline to end its three-year run of delivering oil from North Dakota shale fields to an Illinois oil hub. Judge James E. Boasberg said Dakota Access must shut down the pipeline and empty it of oil by Aug. 5.
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