In a shocking turn of events, a major crude oil pipeline in the U.S. has just been shut down by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, an Obama-appointee, ruled this week that the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) must be temporarily shut down to evaluate its risks. The order marks a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmentalists, who oppose the pipeline.
Shut it down
“Clear precedent favoring vacatur during such a remand coupled with the seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow for the thirteen months that the Corps believes the creation of an EIS will take,” Boasberg wrote, according to Fox.
Accordingly, the pipeline now has to be emptied by August 5th, while an environmental impact review is conducted.
The DAPL is owned by the Texas-based company Energy Transfer, and it has been in operation for three years. It carries crude oil from North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois where an oil terminal is located.
During this journey, the pipeline goes beneath the Missouri River, and this is really what led to the recent court case.
Just south of the Missouri River is the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, and they use the river’s water. They brought the lawsuit out of a fear that the environment, especially their water, could be polluted by an oil spill.
Accordingly, the tribe asked the court to shut down the pipeline, and the court, as demonstrated, granted that request. Judge Boasberg believes that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not satisfactorily consider, in their environmental impact report, how an oil spill would impact the environment, even though the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have already put several years of study into this.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe celebrated the decision. “Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” one member said. This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
While the tribe’s activists may have something to celebrate, the U.S. oil industry — in which North Dakota is only second to Texas in production — is going to take another hit in an already uncertain time. Furthermore, the risk of pollution from oil spills has not been eliminated by this action, according to Vicki Granado, a spokesperson for Energy Transfer.
“The economic implications of the Judge’s order are too big to ignore and we will do all we can to ensure its continued operation. Billions of dollars in tax and royalty revenue will be lost by state, local and tribal governments in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois,” Granado said, according to the AP. “Farmers will suffer as crude transportation will move to rail, displacing corn, wheat and soy crops that would normally be moved to market. Ironically, the counties along these rail lines will face increased environmental risks due to the increased amount of crude oil traveling by rail.”