The Dakota Access Pipeline may continue to pump crude oil through South Dakota after a federal appellate court on Tuesday temporarily blocked a shutdown ordered by a lower court that was to begin next month.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an administrative stay that will be in effect at least through next Thursday while the pipeline's operator, Energy Transfer LP, and its opponents file briefs. The company is appealing the lower court's shutdown order and asking it be blocked pending the final outcome of its appeal.
The company has been fighting over the project for years with environmentalists and Native American tribes, under whose land a small portion of the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile North Dakota-to-Illinois pipeline runs.
"The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion," the court said in the order.
GAIN Coalition, a consortium of businesses, trade associations and labor groups that supports the pipeline, called Tuesday's temporary stay "a key step forward in reaffirming the Dakota Access Pipeline's critical role in the American energy infrastructure network."