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Federal judge James Boasberg, who last week ruled for an assessment review of the environmental impacts of the Dakota Access pipeline, has scheduled more hearings on the case for the summer, which means the pipeline will not be shut down. The hearings will determine whether the pipeline should be shut down while the review is in progress.
The news is not too good for the plaintiffs in the case, the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, whose main goal is to shut down the pipeline indefinitely. Still, the assessment review ruling was hailed as a victory for anti-pipeliners last week.
The tribes and their legal advisers hoped that the judge will suspend the DAPL’s operation until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes the new assessment, or set a deadline for it, but neither of these has happened. When the judge asked the Army Corps how long the review would take, their lawyer declined to make any estimates, which prompted the additional hearings.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company that built the pipeline, was happy with the latest decision of Boasberg. Oil flow in the Dakota Access began early this month after months of protests and a veto by the Obama administration, which was reversed when Donald Trump entered the White House.
The $3.8-billion pipeline project sprang a few minor leaks in North Dakota before it went into operation earlier this year, stoking opponents’ anger. All the leaks were contained, but the incidents strengthened the pipeline opponents’ case.
Energy Transfer partners, however, insists that the pipeline does not actually cross Standing Rock Sioux territory. On a map on the project website, the pipeline is shown as passing along one border of the tribe’s reservation. Lake Oahe, which is a dammed section of the Missouri River, contains eight other pipelines that have been operating for years.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.