Anti-pipeline activists have found a friend in Judge James Boasberg in the U.S. District Court for the D.C. Circuit. Boasberg, an Obama appointee, sided with the opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and ordered further environmental analysis in a 42-page decision Wednesday.
Judge Boasberg denied permits for the pipeline and ordered environmental studies. The Army Corps of Engineers was ordered to do a full environmental impact statement.
“In projects of this scope, it is not difficult for an opponent to find fault with many conclusions made by an operator and relied on by the agency,” he wrote in the 42-page decision. “But here, there is considerably more than a few isolated comments raising insubstantial concerns.
“The many commenters in this case pointed to serious gaps in crucial parts of the Corps’ analysis — to name a few, that the pipeline’s leak-detection system was unlikely to work, that it was not designed to catch slow spills, that the operator’s serious history of incidents had not been taken into account, and that the worst-case scenario used by the Corps was potentially only a fraction of what a realistic figure would be,” he continued.
This is just the first step in the process, next a judge will decide if the pipeline will have to shut down as this case continues. North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has battled DAPL for years. It is a cause celebre for climate change alarmists, Hollywood celebrities, and the keep-it-in-the-ground activists. The tribe is pleased.
“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith said in a statement. “It’s humbling to see how actions we took four years ago to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet.”
We’re talking about a 1,172 mile-long underground oil pipeline that carries oil from North Dakota to Illinois. It begins in the shale oil fields in northwest North Dakota and continues through South Dakota and Iowa to an oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois. Several energy companies are involved in the operation. During his 2016 campaign, President Trump promised to pave the way for both DAPL and Keystone Pipeline XL approval after years of stalling by the Obama administration. He carried through on that promise when he came into office. You probably remember that the Obama administration – with a strong assist from the State Department under the guidance of Hillary Clinton – held up the Keystone Pipeline XL as long as they could by tying it up in court battles and study after study, all of which never provided enough evidence to warrant a permanent shutdown of that project. Now the same moves are being made against DAPL.
The protest camps at the construction site of the DAPL were taken down by law enforcement in 2017 but the battle rages on. The main concern of the native American groups involved is the effect a leak or spill may have on tribal land or on the Missouri River, which the pipeline crosses. The environmental statement required by the federal court is more involved than the assessment provided by the Army Corps of Engineers. The pipeline operation has been running for three years.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation is less than a mile from the pipeline, have said they worry a spill under the nearby Missouri River would pollute water they rely on for fishing, drinking and religious ceremonies. The tribe in 2016 sued in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., to stop construction and won an early victory in the Obama administration when the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would seek alternative routes.
Four days after President Trump took office in 2017, he signed an executive memorandum directing the corps “to review and approve in an expedited manner” the pipeline. The move prompted rallies outside the White House and Trump International Hotel. By June of 2017, oil began flowing through the pipeline.
The climate change alarmists in Congress are happy to do the bidding of the keep-it-in-the-ground activists, especially if it is a hit to Trump.
Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the ruling was proof that the Trump administration is so intent on pushing through fossil fuel projects that it fails to properly follow the law.
“Industry needs to learn that if you throw in with the Trump administration, you will bear the costs of its reckless incompetence,” he said.
The American people who are dependent on fossil fuels to go about daily life – like driving a car or running electricity in their homes or goods being produced – are the ones paying the price but, hey, the congressman got to give a party over country statement to the media. This is just one more example of why Republicans must take back the House of Representatives in November.
The truth is that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil. The alternatives are to transport it on land by rail or truck. This is a sop to the Green New Deal lobby. Now we wait and see how it all goes from here.