BISMARCK — Amid concerns about federal action to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum urged President Joe Biden's administration to keep the embattled project operating while it conducts an extensive environmental review.
In a letter sent earlier this week, Burgum asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not to shutter the pipeline after a federal judge last month ruled that it is running without a key permit at its Lake Oahe Crossing near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
"The Corps approved the installation of the pipeline," Burgum said in the letter. "To pull the plug now, after the pipeline has been operating safely for more than three years, would severely impair future capital investment in much-needed projects at a time when America is in desperate need of infrastructure upgrades, jobs and economic activity to accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."
Burgum sent his letter Tuesday, Feb. 11, a day before a federal court deadline that would have forced the Army Corps to lay out its plans for the pipeline and its invalid permit. That deadline was bumped to April 9 after a judge granted the Army Corps an extension.
Since taking office last month, Biden has rolled out a series of bold executive orders aimed at combatting climate change, several of which North Dakota officials criticized as damaging to the state's oil industry.
The recent court ruling on the Dakota Access pipeline has left an open path for the Army Corps, under Biden's authority, to shut down the pipeline, which can carry 570,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken formation to market around the country.
Earlier this month, Burgum condemned Biden's executive order suspending new oil and gas leases on federal lands, directing state agencies to assess the economic damages and "identify opportunities" to challenge the new federal actions.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at email@example.com.