Supporters and those in opposition of DAPL will have to wait until 2022 for answers on its key permit

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 6:02 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The Dakota Access Pipeline will continue to operate.

Federal Judge James Boasberg denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction to be placed on the Dakota Access Pipeline while the Army Corps of Engineers finishes up a second environmental review.

The decision came down Friday, May 21, but based on the judge’s prior opinions, many in the energy industry were bracing for the decision to go the other way.

Eleven months ago, an initial ruling stated the pipeline was to be shut down.

After appeals and many groups getting involved, the opposite happened.

“In the effect of a different ruling, you had to have a place to move your oil the next day. So there’s no question that producers have spent a tremendous amount of time, effort, and resources looking at alternative ways to move their oil to market,” said North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness.

Producers were preparing to use rail or road shipping methods, even though it’s less safe than transporting through pipelines.

The tribes involved in the case disagree saying a potential spill where the pipeline crosses river could damage their water supply.

“They’re saying we didn’t show enough cause, but what do we have to do? Wait until it breaks and then look at everybody and say ‘we told you so?’” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Mike Faith. Going forward, it’s up to the Army Corps environmental impact statement to decide whether or not to reissue the pipeline’s key permit.

It’s been operating without the permit needed to cross the river, but industry experts are confident the environmental review will reinstate it.

“The environmental assessment that was done underneath the Obama administration was the most extensive assessment ever completed. And I think the EIS will validate that,” said Ness.

The pipeline has the capacity to transport 570,000 barrels of oil per day. According to a status report given to the court by the Army Corps, a decision on the pipeline’s permit will need to wait. The Corps said the environmental impact statement won’t be ready until March 2022.

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