BISMARK, ND ( Associated Press) — An Illinois appellate court has overturned a decision by state regulators that would allow the Dakota Access oil pipeline to double its capacity to 1.1 million barrels per day.
In a 60-page decision filed Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the appellate court ordered the Illinois Commerce Commission to review a public need for a project that transports North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois. . The court said the commission should consider the need of the public “for the people of the United States, not for the world”.
Court said regulators should also consider regulatory violations in Pennsylvania by Sunoco, one of the owners of the pipeline.
It ordered Illinois regulators to issue a new ruling within 11 months, while limiting the pipeline’s capacity to 570,000 barrels per day.
The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) underground pipeline has been carrying oil since 2017. Its construction in North Dakota in late 2016 and early 2017 was subject to prolonged protests and hundreds of arrests as it passes under the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe draws its water from the river and is afraid of pollution.
Texas-based Energy Transfer, which built the pipeline, insisted it would be safe and expand.
Opponents argue that carrying more oil through the pipeline increases the chances of a catastrophic oil spill.
North Dakota regulators unanimously approved in 2020 Expanded capacity for the Dakota Access Pipeline from 570,000 barrels per day to 1.1 million barrels, adding that he believed the project met overall state and federal requirements. Pipeline proponents said the expansion was needed to meet growing demand for oil shipments from North Dakota, without the need for additional pipelines or rail shipments.
Additional pump stations were needed in the Dakota and Illinois to add horsepower to push more oil through the line. Regulators in those states approved additional stations.
In Illinois, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others opposed the commission’s approval, sending it to an appellate court.
Pipeline owners announced last summer that the line was capable of transporting 750,000 barrels a day along the line. But North Dakota Pipeline Authority director Justin Kringstad said Thursday that the potential amount has not been achieved to date.
North Dakota’s oil production currently stands at 1.1 million barrels per day. Railroad and other pipelines ship oil that do not run on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Kringstad said the ruling in Illinois would have no immediate effect on North Dakota’s oil production or ability to ship it. But “the long-term outlook remains uncertain,” he said.
The biggest hurdle in operating the pipeline remains in federal court. A Washington, DC, Circuit Court of Appeals panel last year supported the argument of the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes that the project deserves a thorough environmental review and is currently operating without a major federal permit.
The study will determine whether the US Army Corps of Engineers re-issues permits for the line to cross the Missouri River in south-central North Dakota.