Energy Transfer's $3.8bn, 1,172-mile underground pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa and to a shipping point in Illinois and up and running for three years already has been ordered to cease operations by a district court judge until a more thorough environmental assessment review has been made.
The company has 30 days to shut and empty the 570,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) line, closing off the biggest artery transporting crude oil out of North Dakota’s Bakken shale basin to midwest and Gulf coast regions.
In December 2016, the Obama administration denied permits for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River, where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe draws its drinking water from, and ordered a full environmental review to analyze alternative routes and the impact on the tribe’s treaty rights. This was struck down in one of President Trump's Executive Orders during the first week of his administration.
Energy Transfer said it was looking at legal and administrative measures to avoid a shutdown and was considering an appeal if those efforts failed.
In a filing seeking a temporary stay to the order, the company argued that time-consuming and expensive steps were required to shut the pipeline down safely and empty it of oil, which would take much more than 30 days.
If the motion for stay pending an appeal was denied by the district court, the company said, it intended to file one in the Washington DC circuit court.