Big oil arrogance: DAPL refuses to shut down in spite of judge’s order, then backs off, and other news

As pipeline resisters were celebrating a U.S. District Court ruling requiring the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to shut down pending environmental reviews, DAPL’s operator seemed to thumb its nose at the ruling, suggesting it would refuse to comply.

Shortly after Energy Transfer LP’s corporate chest thumping, the company seemed to back off the threat, but it clearly seemed to want to send a message.

On other pipeline fronts, the Keystone XL pipeline faces a major setback, the Trans Mountain Pipeline loses an insurance provider, and in spite of a favorable U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline still will be scrapped.

File photo.

Earlier this year, the Standing Rock Nation, the Cheyenne River Nation, and other parties successfully sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its failure to adequately review DAPL. U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg’s ruling forced the Corps to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) where the pipeline crosses under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Reservation.

That ruling left open the question of whether or not DAPL could keep operating while the Corps completed the EIS.

In a follow-up Monday, Boasberg ruled that DAPL had to cease operating by Aug. 5, citing “the seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies” in environmental review.” DAPL can’t restart until the environmental review is done, and then only if permits are renewed.

This ruling effectively means DAPL will have to stop operations for a year.

In a sign of corporate arrogance, Energy Transfer announced it wouldn’t close the line and would keep taking orders for August shipments, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle. The company said Judge Boasberg “exceeded his authority and does not have the jurisdiction to shut down the pipeline or stop the flow of crude oil.”

That caught the attention of Earthjustice lawyer Jan Hasselman, who represents Standing Rock Nation in this case. Energy Transfer doesn’t “get to ignore a federal court order just because they disagree with it,” he said, according to the Chronicle.

Energy Transfer is run by billionaire and Trump fundraiser Kelcy Warren.

The company seemed to walk back its threat, saying it wouldn’t flout the judge’s ruling, but would appeal, according to the Dallas Morning News.

This is the first time the courts or other unit of government have shut down an operational pipeline based on a National Environmental Policy Act violation, the story said.

Other pipeline news

Keystone XL: In a mixed ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline until it gets a thorough environmental review for water crossings. The Court’s ruling has a major downside, too. It approved a policy known as the Nationwide Permit 12, which will fast track other pipeline projects. It made an exception for Keystone XL.

Atlantic Coast pipeline: Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced a week ago they would scuttle the natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Supreme Court ruling on the legitimacy of the Nationwide Permit 12 might have helped the project, but the companies said after the Supreme Court’s decision that they wouldn’t change their plans to cancel the project.

Trans Mountain pipeline: Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline has lost one of its 27 insurers, and another is ready to drop its policy, due to climate change concerns, according to Stand.earth. “German insurer Talanx will no longer back Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, while Munich Re also signaled it will also drop the project after unveiling a new oil sands policy,” the site said. Stand.earth is part of 32 member coalition pressing insurance companies to drop their coverage of the Trans Mountain tar sands crude oil pipeline due to the environmental damage it would create.

Here are statements from the insurance companies, provided by Stand.earth:

“As a matter of principle, Talanx no longer invests in companies that derive more than 25% of their revenue or generate more than 25% of their power from coal. In addition, oil sands have been added to the list of exclusion criteria for both investments and underwriting.”

Munich Re has a policy on oils sands in place, covering both investments and insurance. We no longer insure the extraction of oil sands or related dedicated infrastructure on a single risk basis. And we do not invest in companies that generate >10% of their revenue from oil sands extraction.”

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