Appeals court reverses lower court’s order to halt Dakota Access pipeline operations pending review

Pipeline operator Energy Transfer sustained a major legal blow last month when a federal court ordered it to stop using its Dakota Access pipeline.

As Breitbart reported, however, the company got some relief this week with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s decision on Wednesday to partially overturn the lower court’s order.

“Potential harm”

The July 6 ruling by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg gave Energy Transfer 30 days to stop sending oil through the pipeline prior to the beginning of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental impact review earlier this week.

That review could last up to a year, but Boasberg justified the delay by citing the “potential harm” continued operation of the pipeline could have on the environment.

The judge was unsympathetic to complaints from Energy Transfer that it would be unable to fully drain the pipeline and protect it from corrosion within the timeframe given.

His rationale was not good enough for a three-judge appellate court panel, which found that he “did not make the findings necessary for injunctive relief.”

Nevertheless, the appeals court did not fully grant Energy Transfer’s request that the review be stopped, stating that it “failed to make a strong showing of likely success” on the merits of its case.

“More to like than dislike”

Opponents of the pipeline seemed unfazed by the ruling and expressed hope that their situation will improve following November’s election.

Jan Hasselman, an attorney for EarthJustice who is representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said that there is “more to like than dislike in this ruling.”

The lawyer went on to predict that there “will be a review and a new permit during the next administration.”

Energy Transfer’s Dakota Access pipeline has been a source of controversy for years, sparking widespread and sometimes violent protests by environmental activist groups. Opponents say that its construction and operation poses a risk to North Dakota’s Standing Rock reservation, though Forbes magazine published an article in 2018 citing data that shows pipelines are less likely to lead to an oil spill than truck transportation.

The debate over this pipeline is sure to continue, but those who believe it is good for America’s energy independence and economy now have a new reason to hope that it will be in full operation long into the future.

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