Jul 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Court orders temporary shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline

Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline in San Francisco in 2017. Photo: Joel Angel Juarez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A federal judge ordered Monday the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline — a project at the heart of battles over oil-and-gas infrastructure — while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts a new environmental analysis.

Why it matters: The latest twist in the years-long fight over the pipeline is a defeat for the White House agenda of advancing fossil fuel projects and a win for Native Americans and environmentalists who oppose the project

  • The pipeline, which runs from North Dakota to an oil storage terminal in Illinois, began operating in 2017 with the backing of the Trump administration after several years of regulatory and legal jostling and major protests.

What happened: Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the D.C. Circuit vacated a critical easement while the Army Corps of Engineers prepares a previously ordered study called an environmental impact statement.

  • The judge wrote that he's "mindful of the disruption such a shutdown will cause."
  • But he adds that precedent and prior problems with the Corps' review "outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow for the thirteen months that the Corps believes the creation of an EIS will take."

The intrigue: It's the second big defeat or setback for a high-profile pipeline in as many days.

  • Dominion Energy and Duke Energy yesterday canceled the long-proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a major natural gas project also backed by the Trump administration, citing legal and permitting uncertainties.

Read the ruling.

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