Dakota Access Pipeline Remains Open, For Now
OMAHA (DTN) -- The Dakota Access pipeline, or DAPL, will remain open
following a federal appeals court ruling that a district court overstepped when
it ordered the pipeline closed and emptied of oil by Wednesday.
In a ruling that temporarily alleviates transportation concerns raised by
agriculture groups, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit on Wednesday ordered the pipeline to remain open pending further court
"The district court did not make the findings necessary for injunctive
relief," the appeals court said in its ruling.
A district court this summer ordered the pipeline closed as a result of
permitting issues with the construction of the line dating back to 2017. On
July 14, the appeals court ruled the line could remain open pending an appeal.
In addition, the appeals court denied a motion to stay the district court's
order to vacate the Mineral Leasing Act easement authorizing the DAPL to cross
the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.
"At this juncture, appellants have failed to make a strong showing of likely
success on their claims that the district court erred in directing the Corps
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) to prepare an environmental impact statement, or
that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to remand without
vacatur pending the statement's completion," the court said in its order.
All parties in the case before the appeals court have until the end of
September to file briefs in the case.
Several agriculture groups said in briefs filed with the appeals court at
the end of July that the permanent shutdown of the pipeline would have
devastating consequences for farmers.
The North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Grain Dealers Association, North
Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Corn Growers Association, South
Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, and South Dakota Soybean Association asked the
court to stay the district court ruling.
The groups are concerned closing the pipeline could drastically increase the
costs of transporting commodities. According to the groups, railroads transport
72% to 82% of North Dakota's crop output.
"The total amount of crop rail shipments has vastly increased in recent
history," the brief said. "Overall agricultural shipments by rail doubled
between 2000 and 2014. The court should grant a stay because the DAPL shutdown
would cause disruptive consequences to the agricultural industry."
The ag groups argue if the pipeline is no longer in operation, "the crude
oil currently transported by DAPL would need to be shipped through alternate
means. As the North Dakota Department of Transportation explained in its 2040
North Dakota State Rail Plan, there is a direct correlation between pipeline
capacity and rail shipments of crude oil.
A number of other economic and industry groups have filed similar briefs
with the court. That includes the North Dakota Water Users Association, the
American Petroleum Institute and the Western Dakota Energy Association.
From April 2016 to February 2017, Native American and other groups protested
the construction of the pipeline running from the Bakken oil fields in western
North Dakota and crossing the Missouri and Mississippi rivers to southern
Part of the pipeline runs near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Protests centered on concerns about the pipeline's effect on water supplies
used for irrigation, drinking water and threats to ancient burial grounds.
The appeals court ruled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated
environmental law in 2017 when it allowed the pipeline owner, Energy Transfer,
to build beneath South Dakota Lake Oahe.
Todd Neeley, 1.402.255.8237, email@example.com, http://www.dtn.com.
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