North Dakota Doubts Biden Resolve, Seeks Role in Pipeline Case

April 19, 2021, 10:11 PM

North Dakota can’t trust the Biden administration to advocate for the state’s interests in litigation over the Dakota Access oil pipeline, state lawyers said Monday in a request to intervene in the case.

“North Dakota cannot be confident that the Federal Defendant will continue to be a zealous advocate for the continued and safe operation of DAPL,” North Dakota said in a filing to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, adding that the pipeline supports jobs and revenue in the state.

The court is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks on American Indian tribes’ latest effort to shut down the pipeline in light of an invalid federal easement.

Justice Department lawyers representing the Army Corps of Engineers on April 9 told the district court they wouldn’t order Dakota Access to halt operations for now, but they didn’t rule out future enforcement action, calling it a “continuous process” of review. The federal government also isn’t challenging a recent appeals court ruling that affirmed the easement violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

That means North Dakota no longer can rely on the federal government to represent its interests, state lawyers said Monday.

“North Dakota seeks this intervention to protect its significant sovereign rights in this matter that, based on events that have taken place in the last ten days, are no longer adequately represented by the Defendant,” the state said in its motion.

Lawyers for Dakota Access are due to file separate court papers Monday addressing the economic impact of a potential pipeline shutdown.

Dakota Access has been in service for four years, delivering crude from North Dakota shale fields to an oil hub in Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others have been fighting the project in court since before it was built.

The case is Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. Army Corps of Engineers, D.D.C., No. 1:16-cv-01534, motion filed 4/19/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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