The multi-billion-dollar Dakota Access Pipeline can continue pumping oil for the time being, a federal court ruled Tuesday.
The U.S. Appeals Court’s ruling temporarily halts a lower court’s July 6 decision to shut down the project and order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a rigorous environmental review of the pipeline.
Local tribes in North Dakota and other activists have long opposed the $3.8 billion line, claiming that it poisons drinking water.
The ruling allows oil to continue coursing through the DAPL, which runs from North Dakota through the Midwest and on to Gulf Coast refineries. Nearly 600,000 barrels of oil flow through the project daily, making it a significant part of North Dakota’s economy.
Energy Transfer, the company behind the project, would lose as much as $3.5 million every day the pipeline is offline and roughly $1.4 billion if the line is permanently shut down throughout 2021, Dakota Access said, according to Reuters.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other American Indian tribes requested the shutdown, arguing that the pipeline harms the environment and tramples on tribal lands.
DAPL has been shipping oil to Illinois for the past three years after President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders in 2017 advancing the construction of the pipeline, along with another oil project that former President Barack Obama scuttled in 2015.
The president asked the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline to resubmit its application for a cross-border permit bringing oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. Trump’s predecessor argued that approving the pipeline would tarnish the U.S.’s image as a climate change crusader.
He blocked the Dakota Access Pipeline in November 2016 shortly before leaving office for similar reasons.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg made the initial move to halt the DAPL, ordering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in March to complete an Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline, which could take upward of 13 months to complete.
Such a review is far more time consuming than the environmental assessment the corp conducted before the project was completed.
“Given the seriousness of the Corps’ … error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease,” Boasberg wrote in his opinion on July 6.
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