Biden admin declines opportunity to shut down Dakota Access oil pipeline

As unlikely as it might seem, President Joe Biden recently announced a move that caused many Republicans to celebrate.

Reports indicate that the president decided against ordering the shutdown of the Dakota Access oil pipeline while an environmental review remains underway.

Environmental review ongoing

According to reports, Biden revealed the decision on Friday when government lawyers informed opponents of the pipeline that the project would not be ordered to cease. Of course, the ruling does not mean that the Dakota Access pipeline will not ultimately be scrapped.

The legal battle stems from the prior administration when former President Donald Trump granted a permit allowing the pipeline to operate, thus sparking a legal challenge by environmentalist groups and Native Americans living in the impacted area.

Last year, a federal district court canceled the permit ordering the project to be shut down and its oil emptied. That judge ruled that the Trump administration failed to conduct a proper environmental review.

A U.S. appellate court later allowed the project to continue while a new study was completed. That review is still ongoing and is expected to be completed by March.

At around the same time as the appellate court decision, a district court ruled that the pipeline was operating illegally, since it did not have a proper permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to cross under Lake Oahe. That court gave the corps the option to shut down the pipeline, but it decided not to do so.

Strange bedfellows

Now the Biden is in the White House, he could have temporarily shut down the pipeline, but determined that he would not.

Critics of the pipeline are asking the U.S. district court to shut it down instead. It is unclear at this point what the outcome will be, but it is the same court that attempted to halt the project earlier. A decision on the matter is expected to be announced within the next two weeks.

As for the president’s decision, it might strike some Americans as curious — especially considering that one of his first moves after his inauguration was to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline.

A key difference between the two projects is that the Dakota Access pipeline was already up and running, whereas the Keystone XL pipeline was still being completed.

Either way, environmental activists are unhappy with the decision even as Republicans applaud it. Such a result is not likely to occur often during the Biden administration.

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