In response to concerns over the lack of an environmental impact study, a U.S. district court earlier this year vacated an easement that allows continued operation of the pipeline.
Shutting down the pipeline, however, would create public safety hazards, threaten the environment and deliver an economic blow to grain farmers in the Midwest, Attorney General Hill said.
“The courts should allow the pipeline to continue transporting oil while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepares an environmental impact study,” Attorney General Hill said. “The order by the U.S. district court largely ignores the damage that a shutdown would cause to our economy, environment, food supply and personal safety.”
Working jointly with the State of Montana, Attorney General Hill filed an amicus brief with the appellate court on Wednesday. Nine other states also joined the brief.
The negative consequences of shutting down the pipeline far outweigh any concerns related to a procedural delay in an environmental impact study, Attorney General Hill said.
“Should the pipeline cease transporting crude oil, we all stand to suffer,” said Attorney General Hill, who also has filed two previous briefs regarding this matter.
Closing the pipeline, which for three years has carried roughly 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from western North Dakota to southern Illinois, would force oil shipments to go by rail instead. Oil would then compete for train space with the agricultural sector, disrupting the economics of grain distribution and, in turn, threatening the food supply during a global pandemic that is already hampering food security worldwide.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline has already been constructed, the oil is flowing, and the American economy has come to rely on its benefits as an alternative to rail or truck transport,” the brief states. “The disruption that will result from vacating the easement is not merely ‘economic.’ It will affect the food security of all who rely on Midwestern grain producers to ship affordable food through rail transport.”
Transporting oil by pipeline is also safer than transporting oil by rail. Studies by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that the fatality and injury rates of pipeline transportation are, on average, significantly lower than those of rail transportation.