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Appeals Court: Dakota Access Oil Pipeline Can Remain Open

The Dakota Access can stay open and should not be emptied of crude, a U.S. appeals court ruled after a lower court had ordered the oil pipeline shut until a new environmental assessment is made.   

Dakota Access doesn’t have to shut down, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said on Wednesday. However, the court did order an expedited schedule for the parties to submit briefs over whether a new environmental impact statement will be needed for the pipeline.

A federal judge ruled on July 6 that the Dakota Access Pipeline, in operation since 2017, must be emptied and shut down by August 5, until a new comprehensive environmental review is completed. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia said that the Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it gave a permit to the pipeline to build beneath Lake Oahe.

A week later, a U.S. Appeals Court ruled that Dakota Access could continue to operate while the court considers whether the pipeline should be shut down as ordered by a lower court’s ruling. 

The appeals court now ruled that the oil pipeline can stay open, but the litigation over the Dakota Access pipeline continues.

The decision about the merits of the appeals from the Army Corps and Dakota Access as to whether an Environmental Impact Statement will be required is expected by the end of the year, Tom Mason, General Counsel at the pipeline’s operator Energy Transfer, said on the earnings call on Wednesday.

Related: Exxon: 20 Percent Of Global Oil And Gas Reserves May Be Wiped Out

“We believe our legal positions are strong, and we are confident that the pipeline will continue to operate,” Mason said.

According to Earthjustice, “Today’s decision found that the government and DAPL were not likely to prevail on the merits of their appeal that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must conduct a full environmental review on the pipeline.”

“Dakota Access is an affront to Tribal sovereignty and a threat to public health and clean water. Everyone would be safer if operations were halted,” Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman said.

“The pipeline is now operating illegally: we are confident that it will be shut down eventually.”  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Bill Simpson on August 07 2020 said:
    What better way to see the true environmental impact, if any, than to fire it up, and watch what happens? No amount of study and guesswork can ever hope to be as accurate as the real thing.

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