Federal judge orders Dakota Access Pipeline to be shutdown, emptied

Court order is second major blow in a week to the U.S. oil and natural gas industry.

Updated: July 7, 2020 - 11:55am

A federal judge has ordered the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline while an environmental review is conducted. The judge also ordered that the pipeline must be emptied by Aug. 5.

The judge found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated "the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement" for the pipeline's construction. 

Judge James Boasberg wrote Monday in a 24-page order legal precedent and "the seriousness of the corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow for the thirteen months that the corps believes the creation of an EIS will take.”

The review must be completed inside of 30 days, according to the order. The pipeline has been in operation for three years. It carries oil from North Dakota to an oil terminal in Illinois, through South Dakota and Iowa. The pipeline's route crosses underneath the Missouri River, which runs up against the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that lies on the border between North and South Dakota. 

The initial construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline yielded months of (sometimes violent) protests. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe uses water from the Missouri River and fears that the pipeline will pollute the source. 

In 2018, the Army Corps of Engineers said that a study that it had completed determined that the pipeline posed no significant environmental threats.

In 2017, Judge Boasberg ruled that the corps "largely complied" with the proper environmental law when okaying the pipeline, but ordered a continued review. He ultimately ruled that the corps didn't adequately assess how an oil spill under the Missouri River could impact the tribe's fishing and hunting rights.

Shop Our Store