The oil and gas industry’s largest U.S. trade organization criticized the Obama administration Wednesday for “unilaterally halting” a pipeline that had already gone through vetting and approval by state and federal agencies.
The American Petroleum Institute made this statement in a conference call regarding the lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its approval of portions of the Dakota Access Pipeline route crossing the Missouri River north of the reservation.
API midstream group director Robin Rorick said stopping part of Dakota Access has had a “chilling effect” on this and other projects, adding that private industry needs certainty when investing in infrastructure. He said revoking an already approved project sets a dangerous precedent.
Rorick said if the tribe or others wish to have discussions on tribal involvement in the federal pipeline permitting process, his organization welcomes the opportunity; but he believes the case against Dakota Access should be judged based on the permitting standards that were in place when the project was approved.
A three-judge panel from the D.C. District of the U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments from industry and tribal lawyers Wednesday as the tribe appealed a previous U.S. District Court decision not to issue an injunction halting pipeline construction until the legal battle plays out in full.
"The Obama administration and all federal agencies have a trust responsibility to uphold the treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the pipeline without consulting with our tribe," Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said during a press conference following the D.C. court hearing.
"The approval of this pipeline by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a violation of our treaty rights, and we will not stop fighting until our lands, people, water and sacred places are permanently protected," he said.
It is not known when the judges will rule. Rorick said he is "hopeful a decision will come sooner than later.”
In the meantime, API has no plans to request any action from Congress as was attempted with the Keystone XL pipeline, which was to carry Canadian and some Bakken oil south to the Gulf Coast but was blocked by the Obama administration during the permitting process.
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