Bloomberg Law
July 11, 2020, 12:51 AM

Dakota Access Pipeline Seeks Lifeline from D.C. Appeals Court

Ellen M. Gilmer
Ellen M. Gilmer

Developers of the Dakota Access pipeline are turning to a federal appeals court to avert an unprecedented shutdown of the oil pipeline.

Energy Transfer LP lawyers on Friday filed an emergency request for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to freeze a lower court’s order requiring the project to stop operating by Aug. 5. Dakota Access has been in service for three years, moving crude from North Dakota to Illinois.

  • District Judge James E. Boasberg ordered the shutdown in a surprise July 6 decision, requiring Energy Transfer to empty the pipeline of oil while the Army Corps of Engineers conducts an environmental review expected to stretch into 2021.
  • Boasberg this week rejected Energy Transfer’s requests that he freeze the order while the company pursues an appeal. A randomly assigned three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit will now decide whether to keep the shutdown mandate in place during a months-long appeals process.
  • Energy Transfer could take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court if the D.C. Circuit declines to stay the order. The company has vowed to use all legal tools to keep Dakota Access in service, and said it hasn’t taken any steps to shut the pipeline down.

The case is Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. Army Corps of Engineers, D.C. Cir., No. 20-5197, motion filed 7/10/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at; Chuck McCutcheon at