Court Rules Dakota Access Pipeline Must Be Emptied For Now

Workers unload pipes in May 2015 for the proposed Dakota Access oil pipeline that would stretch from the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota to Illinois

Large investors in the Dakota Access Pipeline, including Phillips 66 PSX.N , could be on the hook for hundreds of millions in payments, after a USA court on Monday ordered the owners of the major artery to shut it down and empty it of oil.

The latest legal decision comes amid a wave of successful challenges by environmental groups that have blocked permits for at least three major pipeline projects this year in United States courts.

The order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline is the second major blow to the expansion of oil and natural gas development and their respective industries in just this week.

Boasberg at the time also asked both parties to submit briefs on whether the pipeline should be shut down.

A legal challenge has at least temporarily achieved what months of protests through a frigid North Dakota winter couldn't pull off: shutting down a controversial oil pipeline that crosses key bodies of water in the region.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters, shown here during a demonstration in 2017, have opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline for years. The tribe is anxious that the construction and possible oil leaks would lead to the destruction of its sacred sites and pollute its land and water. Texas-based Energy Transfer insisted the pipeline is safe.

The ruling comes a day after Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced they were abandoning an 8-billion-dollar energy project known as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Appalachia, amid environmental pushback. "We told them that from the beginning".


Boasberg in 2017 ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "largely complied" with environmental law when permitting the pipeline but ordered more review.

'I think there's a lot of questions about the authority of this liberal district court judge to make such a significant ruling, ' Ness said of Boasberg, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

Before the coronavirus pandemic devastated the US oil industry, daily oil production in North Dakota - the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas - was at a near-record 1.45 million barrels daily. "There is no doubt that the lawyers are all gearing up and looking at every possibility of a stay or an appeal or something".

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has been stuck in court for years as tribes worked to stop the project.

In 2017, Boasberg ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to redo an environmental review after he found that the agency didn't adequately consider factors such as how an oil spill would impact the tribe's fishing and hunting rights and whether the tribe would be disproportionately harmed by a spill.

The company past year proposed doubling the capacity from 600,000 barrels per day to as much as 1.1 million barrels to meet the growing demand for oil shipments from North Dakota, without the need for additional pipelines or rail shipments. The state's output slipped to below 1 million barrels daily in May amid low energy prices and sparse demand. "A few months later, however, following the change of administration in January 2017 and a presidential memorandum urging acceleration of the project, the Corps again reconsidered and made a decision to move forward", the opinion said. "It took four long years, but today justice has been served at Standing Rock", Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represented the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said in a statement.

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