Dakota Access Pipeline to Shut Down Pending Review, Federal Judge Rules ~ NYT

The ruling, a victory for the Native American and environmentalist groups who oppose the pipeline, said that it must be emptied of oil by Aug. 5.

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Credit…Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune, via Associated Press

The Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil route from North Dakota to Illinois that has inspired intense protests and legal battles, must shut down pending an environmental review and be emptied of oil by Aug. 5, a district court ruled on Monday.

The decision, which could be subject to appeal, is a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Native American and environmental groups who have fought the project for years, and a significant defeat for President Trump, who has sought to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline alive.

“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,” Mike Faith, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said in a statement.

“This pipeline should have never been built here,” he added. “We told them that from the beginning.”

The ruling, by Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the latest twist in a long-running legal battle. It essentially vacates a federal permit that had allowed the pipeline to operate while the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which had granted the permits for the pipeline, conducted an extensive environmental impact review.

Energy Transfer, the Texas company that owns the pipeline, said in a statement on Monday that it would file a motion to stay the decision, and if that failed, appeal to a higher court.

“We will be immediately pursuing all available legal and administrative processes and are confident that once the law and full record are fully considered, Dakota Access Pipeline will not be shut down and that oil will continue to flow,” it said.

In his opinion, Judge Boasberg wrote that the court was “mindful of the disruption such a shutdown will cause” but that it had to consider the “potential harm each day the pipeline operates.”

“This is shocking news,” said Ron Ness, the president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, adding that the pipeline has operated reliably for years, and that the ruling would hurt the state’s economy and encourage other, less safe means of oil transportation.

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