"There’s a big fight yet left": These tents, photographed December 4, 2016, held supplies for some of the thousands of Dakota Access Pipeline resisters who camped at Standing Rock in North Dakota. Photo courtesy Tracy L. Barnett

Native Sun News Today: Oil pipeline owner appeals Dakota Access shutdown order

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nicole Ducheneaux had it right: As lead counsel on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s case to stop the oil flow of the Dakota Access Pipeline in unceded 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty territory, she could claim a win when a federal judge recently ordered a shutdown.

At the time, she warned, however, “Don't get it twisted, it's not over. There's a big fight yet left.” No sooner said than done. On July 10, a pipeline parent company filed a court motion to avoid emptying the line before the Aug. 5 deadline ordered by U.S. District of Columbia Judge James Boasberg.

Lawyers for pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners LP appealed to the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court for an emergency stay in the consolidated cases of the Standing Rock, Yankton, Oglala, and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes.

A July 14, 2020, order from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals relieves the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline from having to comply with a shutdown order while an "emergency" request for a stay in the case is being considered.

Counsel for the company led by Texas billionaire Kelcy Warren said the shutdown “will produce devastating consequences for the country, state and tribal governments, oil producers, other third parties, and Dakota Access.”

Boasberg had found in preparing his July 6 order to empty the pipeline that Dakota Access LLC arguments against shutdown strictly emphasized “its own interests and those of the industry,” with no evidence the public would be harmed.

The tribes sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failure to complete an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, before permitting a pipeline crossing of the Missouri River’s Oahe Reservoir just upstream from tribal drinking water intakes.

“The seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow,” Boasberg determined after requiring the Corp to undertake the impact statement, which mandates government-to-government consultation between U.S. and tribal officials.

Now Energy Transfer Partners LP posits, “Absent a stay pending appeal, the order will incurably and irreparably infringe Dakota Access’ rights, including losses exceeding $1 billion. A stay is also essential to avoid irreparable injuries to other innocent parties and to the public interest.”

It says a shutdown “would inflict $7.5 billion in losses on North Dakota companies, employees, and that state’s budget alone through 2021. Thousands would be unemployed, with serious damage to national security and an already struggling national economy.”

It claims, “The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is the safest, most environmentally friendly option for bringing to market around 40 percent of North Dakota’s, and 4.5 percent of the nation’s crude oil production.”

The non-profit Lakota Peoples Law Project, which took part in the 2016-2017 indigenous-led international grassroots mobilization at Standing Rock in support of the tribes’ now consolidated lawsuits to halt DAPL construction, saw that the pipeline company was not planning to comply with Boasberg’s order and stated:

“We know the judge is correct because no pipeline should be built before a complete environmental study has been conducted. And no pipeline should ever cross native land without the prior and informed consent of that land’s original inhabitants.”

The group urged pipeline fighters to sign a letter of support for the order.

According to Energy Transfer Partners LP, which intervened on behalf of the Corps, no environmental impact statement was needed. “Closing DAPL would increase environmental and health risks by shifting some oil to rail transport, which is statistically more likely to result in spills and related incidents,” the motion also holds.

Not only that but, “Congestion and shipping costs for other rail users, including Midwest farmers, would also increase,” it says, claiming, “DAPL is “among the safest crude oil pipelines in the country.”


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Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com

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