Court Decisions Deal a Blow to High Profile Oil and Gas Pipelines

Jul 10, 2020  | 3 min  | Ep4547

Gold is approaching a record high.

Lumber prices have soared 85 percent since April.

And crude oil has swung from down forty dollars to up forty dollars per barrel in a matter of months.

But not all is well in the energy sector as a court ruling stopped at least two multi-state pipeline projects.

Josh Buettner has our story.

This week, the Supreme Court partially overturned a recent Montana federal court decision with a ruling that requires all new oil and gas pipelines to undergo an extensive environmental review before allowing construction across any body of water.  The decision does allow for fast-track permitting to proceed on several projects, but the Keystone XL pipeline was dead on arrival.

One major concern over the long embattled Alberta to Texas oil conduit, rejected by President Obama and resurrected by President Trump, is the proposed route would have crossed the Ogallala Aquifer, a fresh water source for several heartland states including Nebraska.  Though Canadian proponents are now free to adjust their plans, some warn a Biden win in November could ultimately halt those efforts.

Joe Biden/D – Delaware/Presumptive Democratic Nominee for President:  “We’ll purchase clean energy technologies, fight climate change…”

The day before the decision was announced, litigation and other financial concerns prompted east coast industry giants Duke Energy and Dominion Energy to pull the plug on their proposed $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  The massive interstate natural gas project would have run from West Virginia to North Carolina.

Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, on the same day as the high court decision, a U.S. district court judge ordered the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to close the spigot by August 5th and directed the Army Corps of Engineers to reexamine their environmental impact statement. The edict comes three years after pumping began on the bitterly contested route that connects North Dakota’s oil-rich Bakken region to a terminal in Illinois.

Ron Ness/President-North Dakota Petroleum Council: “Obviously, we’re shocked.  I think it will not only hurt the oil industry, but the tens of thousands of people that work in North Dakota’s oil industry…run and operate these types of facilities…but it’s going to substantially hurt the state of North Dakota and our economy.”

The ruling delivers a blow to the President’s efforts to cut environmental regulations which his administration have called obstacles to business.  Opponents, like the Sierra Club and North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, continue to argue the pipeline traverses fragile natural resources and sacred Native American sites.  Their legal counsel was cautious about the implications of the temporary victory.

Jan Hasselman/Lead Attorney – Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: “Today’s closure isn’t forever.  It is only until there has been a full environmental review and until there’s a new permit decision.  That decision will be made in the next presidential administration.  So the election is, of course, very consequential here. What we expect is, for the first time, the federal government will follow the law and do a full transparent and fair review of the risks and consequences of operating a pipeline in a place like this.” 

For Market to Market, I’m Josh Buettner.  Twitter: @mtmjosh

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