API: Dakota pipe halt sets "dangerous precedent"

OREANDA-NEWS. September 14, 2016. The Obama administration's decision to halt construction on a portion of Energy Transfer's \\$3.8bn Dakota Access crude pipeline (DAPL) sets a dangerous precedent and "condones lawlessness," American Petroleum Institute (API) president Jack Gerard said today.

In a surprise move, the Department of Justice and two other agencies on 9 September halted DAPL construction on federally-controlled land near Lake Oahe in North Dakota. That countered a ruling made hours earlier by a US federal judge hearing a challenge to the project from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

"The administration has unilaterally attempted to change the rules in the middle of the game," Gerard said. "This sets a dangerous precedent for our country and for energy infrastructure." Gerard made the comments at a press conference with the president of North America's Building Trades Unions Sean McGarvey.

The administration said that the US Army Corps of Engineers will not authorize the DAPL construction "until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws."

The executive branch essentially overruled a 58-page federal court decision, putting the project in unprecedented territory outside of the rule of law, Gerard said.

The decision also "condones lawlessness" as some protests against the pipeline had turned violent, he said.

McGarvey said his union has consulted with legal experts who have not been able to find a similar case in history.

The Obama administration decision to stop construction of the line followed large protests at a DAPL site in the past month led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The group has sued to stop the pipeline alleging that it would destroy sacred, culturally significant and historic sites.

Energy Transfer disputes those allegations. Multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route, Energy Transfer said today in a message to employees.

DAPL would move at least 470,000 b/d of crude across four states from the Bakken shale in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, for further delivery to the US Gulf coast. The project is more than 60pc complete.

In its letter to employees Energy Transfer said it intends to meet with officials in Washington to understand their position and "reiterate our commitment to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline into operation."

The Morton County Sheriff's department today said that DAPL plans to remove equipment from specific construction sites in Morton county. Law enforcement will be in the area today to maintain public safety as equipment is removed, the sheriff's office said.