Court rules Dakota Access Pipeline can continue operating during appeal

Barry Amundson
Forum News Service

WASHINGTON — A stay has been issued allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue operating.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued the administrative stay on Tuesday, July 14, preventing U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s shutdown order, according to U.S. Sen. John Hoeven in a statement released late Tuesday night.

The pipeline can thus continue operating while the appeals court considers arguments in the case of the pipeline that carries oil from the Bakken oil fields in northwestern North Dakota in a southeasterly direction across four states to an oil tank farm in Illinois.

Boasberg last month ruled that the completion of a thorough environmental review must be done before the pipeline can operate. It was a rare victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as well as a massive blow to North Dakota’s already hamstrung oil industry.

But this chapter in the DAPL story is not over yet.

The pipeline operator, Dakota Access LLC, appealed the shutdown order, a response that elevated it to the federal appeals court.

Boasberg, appointed by George W. Bush and promoted by Barack Obama, stated that the Army Corps of Engineers violated an important statute of the National Environmental Policy Act in its assessment of DAPL.

Consequently, Boasberg decided in a shocking opinion that DAPL must cease operations until the completion of an environmental impact statement that could take more than a year.

Hoeven said in his statement that the pipeline “is important energy infrastructure that has been safely operating for three years. This temporary stay is a good step that recognizes the significant impact that shutting down the pipeline will have on our state’s economy.”

As for the next step, Hoeven said he hoped the appeals court would grant a long-term stay and allow the pipeline to continue operating.

The pipeline’s crossing of the Missouri River near the tribe’s reservation was the site of protests that sometimes turned violent south of Bismarck. The tribe has been concerned about the safety of its water supply with the pipeline running underneath the river.