In a letter to President Obama Wednesday, the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA) objected to the Administration's recent suspension of construction work on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline from the Bakken shale formation of North Dakota to a refinery hub in Illinois. The letter was co-signed by eighteen national trade associations and labor unions representing businesses and workers that build and supply energy infrastructure.
EEIA took issue with a ruling promulgated September 9 by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers. The agencies announced that the Corps was withholding an easement, which it had already permitted, for construction of a 40-mile stretch of pipeline on Corps land located east, west and under the Missouri River in the vicinity of Lake Oahe in North Dakota, "until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions."
EEIA urged the Administration to direct the agencies to release the easement immediately. "To arbitrarily preempt the review process, as these agencies have done, is not only grossly unfair, it will have a chilling impact on the willingness of developers in all fields to commit time and capital to the construction of the infrastructure our nation so vitally needs."
Construction of the pipeline, which traverses North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, is well advanced, with the operating company reporting that it has already spent $2.5 billion of the estimated $3.7 billion project cost.
In the letter, EEIA CEO Toby Mack added, "Mr. President, this is not how our country should operate. The Dakota Access Pipeline has undergone a rigorous and well-established environmental and regulatory review."
The pipeline is being opposed by The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a coalition of anti-pipeline interest groups. The Administration announced suspension of construction September 9, immediately after a federal judge denied an injunction, ruling that the Tribe had been adequately consulted during the project's approval process. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed to hear an appeal. Arguments for and against the project were heard Wednesday. The Court did not indicate when it would rule.
By adding economical transport capacity, the pipeline would bring over 500,000 barrels per day of North Dakota Bakken shale-produced crude oil to market, enabling substantial new investment in production.