Obama-Appointed Judge Orders Dakota Access Pipeline Shut Down: 'The Flow of Oil Must Cease'


A federal judge has ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to shut down within a month for a prolonged environmental review.

The New York Times reported U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the pipeline must be shut down and emptied of all oil by Aug. 5.

Boasberg was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2011.

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The shutdown will occur while the Army Corps of Engineers concludes an environmental review, which is estimated to be completed within 13 months.

In his decision, Boasberg ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers must conduct the review and release an environmental impact statement.

While acknowledging the negative impacts on North Dakota’s embattled energy industry, Boasberg wrote that the court “is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease.”

“Not wishing to micromanage the shutdown, it will not prescribe the method by which DAPL must achieve this. The Court will nonetheless require the oil to stop flowing and the pipeline to be emptied within 30 days from the date of this Opinion and accompanying Order,” Boasberg concluded.

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The pipeline, which faced an uphill battle to begin carrying crude, was greenlit by the Trump administration in 2017.

Representatives for Energy Transfer Partners, which operates the pipeline, vowed in a news release to fight the decision.

“We believe that the ruling issued this morning from Judge Boasberg is not supported by the law or the facts of the case. Furthermore, we believe that Judge Boasberg has exceeded his authority in ordering the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been safely operating for more than three years,” ETP wrote.

“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,” the company added in the release.

Vowing to file an immediate appeal, ETP argued that the DAPL is the only direct pipeline from North Dakota to its distribution hub.

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“This pipeline is the safest, most environmentally responsible method for moving North Dakota’s crude oil to refining markets around the country,” the company said. “Shutting down this critical piece of infrastructure would throw our country’s crude supply system out of balance, negatively impact several significant industries, inflict more damage on an already struggling economy, and jeopardize our national security.”

Boasberg’s decision to shut down the pipeline is being celebrated by inhabitants of the nearby Standing Rock Reservation, who protested its construction, along with other environmental activists.

Standing Rock Chairman Mike Faith celebrated the decision in a news release.

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

Former Vice President Al Gore also took a victory lap on Twitter.

The tribe, which derives its water from the nearby Missouri River, has argued that the pipeline puts the water source at risk.

The 1,172-mile pipeline carries crude oil from North Dakota underneath the river and eventually on to Illinois.

The court’s blow to North Dakota’s energy industry comes weeks after it was reported by Oil Price that the state suffered an 81 percent decline in oil and gas revenues amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.