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The Dakota Access crude oil pipeline will remain in operation while federal regulators conduct a new environmental analysis of the infrastructure, Bloomberg reported, citing a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia from Friday.
“We are pleased the court correctly recognized that the continued operation of the Dakota Access pipeline presents no risk of harm to others and appropriately denied the efforts to shut down this vitally important pipeline,” Energy Transfer Partners, the operator of the pipeline, told Bloomberg.
The ruling is a setback for opponents of the pipeline who have been fighting to shut it down since 2016. The main argument of the opponents is that the pipeline increases the danger of a serious oil spill in Lake Oahe, which supplies local communities with water.
“Whether framed in terms of likelihood or imminence, Plaintiffs have not made a successful showing of irreparable harm based on the threat of an oil spill at Lake Oahe,” Judge James Boasberg wrote in his Friday ruling.
What’s more, attorneys for the government said they won’t seek to shut down the pipeline while the legal fight goes on, which it will.
“The unacceptable risk of an oil spill, impacts to Tribal sovereignty and harm to drinking water supply must all be examined thoroughly in the months ahead as the U.S. Army Corps conducts its review of this pipeline,” said one of the attorneys for the main plaintiff, the Standing Rock Native American tribe.
Earlier this year, Energy Transfer Partners also suffered a setback in its fight to keep Dakota Access open. In April, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against a rehearing on the whole environmental review case, which would have presented an opportunity for the company to put an end to the whole saga
The new environmental review was ordered as a result of the opponents’ efforts to convince courts the pipeline was dangerous and the dangers were insufficiently analyzed by previous environmental assessment documents.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com