NACS Files Brief to Help Keep Dakota Access Pipeline Operating

The pipeline is key to getting oil from the Bakken reserve to the market, says NACS.

November 22, 2021

Oil Storage

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Last week, NACS filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Dakota Access v. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

NACS, along with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute and Association of Oil Pipe Lines, asked that the Supreme Court agree to review the decision of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding whether the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) must shut down and prepare a full environmental impact statement (EIS). 

“The Dakota Access Pipeline is key to getting oil from the Bakken reserve to the market,” said Doug Kantor, NACS general counsel. “Particularly given the oil prices we face today we need the Supreme Court to ensure we don’t lose access to this source of supply.”

In 2020, the Standing Rock Sioux and environmental groups sued to block the operation of DAPL arguing that a full EIS should have been conducted before DAPL began operations. The Army Corps of Engineers had concluded that an environmental assessment (a less-stringent review) was sufficient. 

The D.C. District Court initially ordered that the DAPL would need to be shut down and conduct an EIS.  NACS filed a brief later that year successfully supporting DAPL’s effort to delay that decision pending litigation.

Following litigation of the issues, however, the D.C. Circuit ruled that a full EIS must be conducted because there was “controversy” surrounding the project.

NACS argued that the decision by the D.C. Circuit contradicts clear rules established by other circuit courts and creates uncertainty for virtually any future pipeline project. Unless the Supreme Court takes the case, the D.C. Circuit decision will add years and cost to virtually any future pipeline project. 

And, in this case, allowing the D.C. Circuit’s decision to stand likely would result in a shutdown of DAPL for a year or more. Kantor added, “The D.C. Circuit’s decision creates conflicting legal standards across the nation and makes it difficult or impossible for projects to meet this newly contrived standard. It is the last thing we need right now.”