Obama Administration Sends Notice of Intent to Prepare Lengthy EIS for Dakota Access Pipeline Project


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)

President Barack Obama, even as the sun sets on his years in office, has been working diligently to hamstring incoming President Donald Trump.

Today that effort took the shape of a notice to the Federal Register of the Department of the Army’s intent to create a full Environmental Impact Statement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. A project which already underwent years of excruciating state and federal review and was on the verge of being completed before President Obama inserted political obstruction into the process.

You can read the full document below.

“It’s unfortunate that the outgoing administration would try to hamstring the professionals at the Army Corps of Engineers who worked diligently for years to ensure the Dakota Access Pipeline was sited and constructed in the environmentally and culturally sensitive manner,” Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the MAIN Coalition which supports the pipeline, said in a statement. “We remain optimistic that the incoming Trump Administration will soon issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline and also demonstrate a willingness to support American infrastructure projects and the American jobs that go along with them.”

At this point, which just days left in his last term in office, President Obama knows he cannot unilaterally stop the pipeline. So what this is about is setting the stage for more legal warfare against the  project under Donald Trump. By initiating this process now, environmental extremist groups can argue in court that it would somehow be illegal for Trump to allow the project to be completed until it plays out.

Creating a full-on EIS is a process that can take years.

Meanwhile, the Dakota Access Pipeline company wants the federal courts to stop the Obama administration from publishing this notice. They want to ensure that a pending court ruling on whether ETP currently has permission under existing permits to cross the Lake Oahe reservor is not “frustrated or thwarted by new governmental actions.”

What’s frustrating about this is that the political zealots pushing obstruction of the pipeline are using a process intended to facilitate the construction of safe, responsible energy infrastructure to inhibit the construction of any new infrastructure at all.

The side effect of this is that, absent new pipelines, old pipelines (and other more risky forms of transportation) are used to bring oil to market.

Here’s the full notice:

[scribd id=336813146 key=key-MNKxOfg93Ktf7Vs4h36i mode=scroll]