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Is This the End of New Pipelines?

Is This the End of New Pipelines?

Defeats at three projects reflect increasingly sophisticated legal challenges, shifting economics and growing demands by states to fight climate change.

They are among the nation’s most significant infrastructure projects: More than 9,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines in the United States are currently being built or expanded, and another 12,500 miles have been approved or announced — together, almost enough to circle the Earth.

Now, however, pipeline projects like these are being challenged as never before as protests spread, economics shift, environmentalists mount increasingly sophisticated legal attacks and more states seek to reduce their use of fossil fuels to address climate change.

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil route from North Dakota to Illinois that has triggered intense protests from Native American groups, must shut down pending a new environmental review. That same day, the Supreme Court rejected a request by the Trump administration to allow construction of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would carry crude from Canada to Nebraska and has faced challenges by environmentalists for nearly a decade.

The day before, two of the nation’s largest utilities announced they had canceled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have transported natural gas across the Appalachian Trail and into Virginia and North Carolina, after environmental lawsuits and delays had increased the estimated price tag of the project to $8 billion from $5 billion. And earlier this year, New York State, which is aiming to drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, blocked two different proposed natural gas lines into the state by withholding water permits.

Protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline in early 2017. On Monday, a court ruled the pipeline project must be shut down pending an environmental review.

Credit…Michael Nigro/Pacific Press, via LightRocket, via Getty Images

Source:  New York Times

By:  Hiroko Tabuchi and 



Judge declines to reverse Dakota Access Pipeline shutdown

Judge declines to reverse Dakota Access Pipeline shutdown
© Greg Nash

A federal judge on Tuesday declined to reverse his decision ordering the Dakota Access Pipeline to be shut down.

Obama appointee James Boasberg declined a request from Dakota Access LLC to immediately stay his Monday decision, but added that the court will “set a status hearing” on the matter when it receives certain documents from the company.

Boasberg on Monday said that the pipeline had to temporarily shut down by Aug. 5 while the Army Corps of Engineers works to prepare an environmental impact statement for a rule relaxation granted to the project.

“As a result, Dakota Access would need to undertake a number of expensive steps before it is likely to have a ruling on the forthcoming stay motion,” the company said.

However, tribes challenging the pipeline disagreed, saying in their own filing that the company did not do enough to show that the stay was unnecessary or try to work with the challengers to reach an agreement.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued over the controversial pipeline, which crosses native lands and has drawn protesters from across the country, in 2016.

Boasberg had previously ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers had violated environmental laws when it gave Dakota Access an easement to construct a segment of the pipeline.

In ordering the shutdown, he wrote that the “seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow.”

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