API Chief on Obama Halting Dakota Access Pipeline: ‘We No Longer Honor the Rule of Law in the United States’

By Penny Starr | September 15, 2016 | 3:52pm EDT
Bill Left Hand, of McLaughlin, S.D., stands next to a sign at the site of a protest Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline that will cross the Missouri River in Morton County.... (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

(CNSNews.com)— Jack Gerard, CEO and president of the trade association American Petroleum Institution (API), said on Thursday that President Barack Obama’s decision to override a federal judge’s ruling to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline construction to go forward in South Dakota violates “the rule of law.”

“The reaction on the part of the administration is really stunning and makes people raise the fundamental question that we no longer honor the rule of law in the United States,” Gerard told CNSNews.com in an exclusive interview on Capitol Hill.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which sought an injunction to halt the pipeline, “had not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here,” and that the project should continue.

Shortly after the decision was released, the Obama administration – through the Departments of Justice and Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers – said in a statement that while the court ruling was “appreciated,” the project should not proceed until consultations were made with the tribe.

"This case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes' views on these types of infrastructure projects," the federal agencies said in the joint statement.

Gerard, who noted that the judge in the case was appointed to review the project by the president, said the pipeline project isn’t on the tribe’s reservation and that the pipeline passing over the Missouri River – cited as a threat by the tribe -- is no different than other pipelines that already cross the river.

Gerard also said that the decision to halt this pipeline project would have a “chilling effect” on a much broader segment of the U.S. economy.

“A recent study shows that in this nation, in the United States, because of our American energy renaissance, there will be as much as $1.1 trillion over the next 11 years invested in just energy infrastructure,” Gerard said. “This will have a chilling effect on that investment if people believe that we no longer honor the rule the law, that we can make arbitrary decisions at any time to withdraw what has been demonstrated by courts and by government agencies to have met the rule of law.”

Gerard said that as many as 8,000 jobs are related to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported recently that the decision could affect the oil industry as a whole.

“With the U.S. government siding in favor of Native American protests against a key North Dakota pipeline, local oil producers and shippers are facing the possibility of greater delays in getting a quick route to ship oil to the Gulf of Mexico,” Reuters reported, regarding the 40-mile stretch of the pipeline through North Dakota.

“The 1,100-mile (1,770 km), $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline was originally expected to start up later this year, to deliver more than 470,000 barrels per day of crude from North Dakota’s prolific Bakken shale play through Illinois and toward refinery row in the U.S. Gulf Coast,” Reuters reported.

“Should the pipeline be delayed for a substantial period, it would affect producers who had counted on demand for oil to be rapidly shipped to the U.S. Gulf, as well as shippers who could find themselves stuck with crude, putting them at risk of unloading it at a loss.”

Gerard also said that the claim that the pipeline poses a threat to water and other resources is an “unfounded allegation.”

“Today we move 99.999 percent of all products safely through our pipeline system. They’re state of the art. They’re environmentally sound,” Gerard said.

“It’s a scare tactic driven by professional agitators to discourage the development of oil and natural gas,” Gerard said.

The Sioux tribe, however, praised the Obama administration for its decision.

"Our hearts are full, this an historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for tribes across the nation," said tribal chairman Dave Archambault II. "Our voices have been heard."

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