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Energy Transfer Isn’t Shutting Dakota Access Despite Ruling


By Rachel Adams-Heard and Ellen Gilmer

(Bloomberg) Energy Transfer LP said it’s not making any moves to empty its Dakota Access oil pipeline after a judge on Monday ordered the conduit shut while a more robust environmental review is conducted.The Dallas-based company run by billionaire Kelcy Warren said it’s also accepting nominations for capacity on the pipeline in August. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had ordered the pipeline to be drained by Aug. 5.“We are not shutting in the line,” Energy Transfer spokeswoman Vicki Granado said in an email. Judge James E. Boasberg “exceeded his authority and does not have the jurisdiction to shut down the pipeline or stop the flow of crude oil.”

It’s the latest sign that Energy Transfer is preparing for yet another battle over the Dakota Access crude pipeline, which four years ago drew months of on-the-ground protests from environmental groups and tribes opposed to the project’s route across Lake Oahe, a dammed section of the Missouri River just a half-mile from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas.

“Energy Transfer is playing a very dangerous game,” said Earthjustice lawyer Jan Hasselman, who represents the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access. “They don’t get to ignore a federal court order just because they disagree with it.”

When asked whether Energy Transfer plans to defy Boasberg’s decision if it remains in effect Aug. 5, Granado reiterated that the company doesn’t think he has the authority to shut the line.

Prices for Bakken crude, produced in North Dakota, rose after the news that Energy Transfer planned to keep the line in service. The discount for Bakken at Clearbrook, Minn., narrowed 60 cents to $2.15 a barrel against Nymex oil futures, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Energy Transfer has multiple routine options for fighting the shutdown order in court. It’s asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to suspend the decision, and it’s pursuing an appeal. If those efforts fail, it can ask the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.

If Energy Transfer opts to bypass those traditional routes and instead simply refuses to shut down the pipeline, the district court could hold the company in contempt — an action that often includes fines or jail time.



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