Dakota Access Pipeline Company Asks Courts to Override Obama Administration’s Political Obstruction


President Barack Obama smiles with David Archambault II, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Leader, after entering the Cannonball pow wow grounds at the start of the Cannonball Flag Dag Celebration on Friday, June 13, 2014. (Kevin Cederstrom/Forum News Service)

“This action is motivated purely by politics at the expense of a company that has done nothing but play by the rules it was given,”Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, said of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to not make a decision about the last easement for the much-protested Dakota Access Pipeline yesterday. “To propose, as the Corps now does, to further delay this pipeline and to engage in what can only be described as a sham process sends a frightening message about the rule of law.”

Today the folks at ETP have asked the courts to intervene. You can read their full press release below. Here’s an excerpt:

Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners, L.P. (NYSE: SXL) today announced that in two related court filings made late last night in U.S. federal district court in Washington, D.C, it has sought a judgment declaring that Dakota Access Pipeline has the legal right-of-way to build, complete and operate the Dakota Access Pipeline without any further action from the Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”). In these actions, Dakota Access Pipeline is requesting the court to confirm that the Corps has already granted all of the relevant authorizations and given Dakota Access Pipeline its right-of-way to finish the pipeline beneath the federal land that borders Lake Oahe in North Dakota as a result of its prior actions in granting a permit to allow Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.

The declaratory relief Dakota Access Pipeline has sought seeks to end the Administration’s political interference in the Dakota Access Pipeline review process. This relief is fully warranted because the Corps has never before declined to provide written documentation of the granting of an easement, a perfunctory ministerial act, to use federally owned land after granting regulatory permission for work on the very same land. Granting the declaratory judgment would restore normal order to the federal permitting process and end the Administration’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law.

“Dakota Access Pipeline has waited long enough to complete this pipeline. Dakota Access Pipeline has been granted every permit, approval, certificate, and right-of-way needed for the pipeline’s construction. It is time for the Courts to end this political interference and remove whatever legal cloud that may exist over the right-of-way beneath federal land at Lake Oahe,” said Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners.

The often unlawful, often violent #NoDAPL protesters have had an ally in the Obama administration. Not only have they refused to evict illegal protest camps on Corps property – camps from which violent attacks on the pipeline projects and the surrounding community have often been launched – but President Obama himself has stepped in to obstruct the project by refusing to issue an easement to cross the Lake Oahe reservoir.

I think even pipeline opponents would admit that this is a purely political obstruction, and that’s obviously what the ETP folks are banking on. They’ve won time and again on the legal merits when this matter has been put before the courts.

They’re hoping the courts give them another win. Though even if the courts side with the Obama administration, with a Trump administration looming, it’s safe to assume that this pipeline is going to get built one way or another.

Really, though, this legal fight is an important one. This is bigger than just this one project. This is about whether or not the federal government can lawfully move the goalposts at the end of an exacting, years-long regulatory process for purely political reasons.

Let’s hope the courts decide that’s not legal. We should be a nation guided by laws, not the whims of politicians, and the law is squarely on the side of the Dakota Access Pipeline has the federal courts have found multiple times in the past.

Here’s the full press release:

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