North Dakota urges court to halt Dakota Access line shutdown

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota is urging a federal appeals court to block a judge’s order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline.

North Dakota Solicitor General Matt Sagsveen filed a document Monday supporting operator Energy Transfer’s efforts to keep the oil line open while the Texas-based company appeals.

Sagsveen argued a shutdown will devastate the oil industry and cost North Dakota billions of dollars in tax revenue, hurting programs and residents.

“These definite consequences vastly outweigh the entirely speculative potential harm of a spill or leak while the (study) proceeds,” Sagsveen wrote.

Last week U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ordered the pipeline shut down by Aug. 5 for an additional environmental assessment more than three years after it began pumping oil. Boasberg later rejected a request by Energy Transfer to halt his order to shut down the pipeline during the lengthy environmental review.

Federal officials who approved the pipeline’s permit to cross the Missouri River notified the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that they also plan to oppose the judge’s order, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

Boasberg previously ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an environmental review that is expected to take more than a year. Department of Justice attorneys representing the Corps notified Boasberg on Monday that the government also plans to appeal his orders.

Energy Transfer plans to appeal. In the meantime, the company is asking the appeals court to allow the pipeline to continue operating. Energy Transfer estimates it would take three months to empty the pipeline of oil and complete steps to preserve it for future use.

The line was the subject of months of protests in 2016 and 2017, sometimes violent, during its construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The tribe took legal action against the pipeline even after it began carrying oil from North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa and to a shipping point in Illinois in June 2017.

The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile (1,886 kilometer) pipeline crosses beneath the Missouri River, just north of the reservation. The tribe draws its water from the river and has concerns about pollution. The company maintains the line is safe.

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