AG Curtis Hill: Closing Dakota Access Pipeline Would Have Drastic Ramifications

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline over the lack of an environmental impact study would create public safety hazards, threaten the environment and deliver an economic blow to grain farmers in the Midwest, Attorney General Curtis Hill said today.

In a brief, Attorney General Hill urged a U.S. district court to allow the pipeline to continue transporting oil while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) prepares an environmental impact study. An additional 13 states 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.

Attorney General Curtis Hill

“Closing the Dakota Access Pipeline would have drastic ramifications for our economy, environment, food supply and personal safety,” Attorney General Hill said. “Should the pipeline cease transporting crude oil, we all stand to suffer.”

Closing the pipeline, which has carried roughly 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from western North Dakota to southern Illinois for nearly three years, 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.

“One way or another, oil will continue to pour out of the Bakken fields. The questions for this Court are at what cost and whether, pending study of an oil pipeline’s environmental impact, grain will too,” the brief states.

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.

Trains hauling crude oil from the Bakken region have been involved in multiple fiery derailments. In 2013, an unattended 74-car train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, a town in Québec, Canada. More than 40 people were killed in the fire that resulted, and another 2,000 were displaced from their homes. Much of the town was incinerated.

If the Dakota Access Pipeline is shut down – causing the oil it transports to be shipped by rail instead – communities will be threatened with similar disasters, the brief states.

“In short, a shut-down of (the pipeline) would create an entirely avoidable set of dangers and risks,” the brief states.

Indiana’s amicus brief is attached.