The Other, Bigger Pipeline Story you may Have Missed
The ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline put into sharp focus just how vulnerable our real infrastructure is to criminal gangs and malicious state actors.
But aside from the images of lines at stations and empty gas pumps, there’s another, homegrown effort to close down pipelines that has nothing to do with hackers or hostile foreign states. It’s coming from environmental groups suing in federal courts to shut down lines shipping crude oil, natural gas, and other petroleum products.
Considered the court action in North Dakota, home to some of the nation’s largest and most productive shale oil fields:
Environmental groups are taking aim at Nationwide Permit No. 12, a streamlined permit that has been used for a wide variety of oil pipelines out of the Bakken, including Dakota Access and the stalled Keystone XL.
Among examples, the group cites are pipelines constructed to move oil out of the Bakken.
“These projects often must cross hundreds of waterways, including rivers that provide public water supply and habitat for listed species. For example, several pipeline projects have been constructed or proposed from Montana, North Dakota, and/or Canada across the Missouri and Platte Rivers in Montana and Nebraska to reach refineries along the Gulf Coast,” the group wrote. “These river systems are home to the endangered pallid sturgeon and are relied upon by migratory birds, including the iconic whooping crane. Construction-related habitat degradation and oil spills would devastate critically imperiled species, thereby harming Plaintiffs’ members who study them and/or enjoy their existence in the wild.”
The Colonial Pipeline disruption was temporary but still caused enormous economic disruption. That pales in comparison to the disruption occurring in courtrooms, where other pipelines carrying the raw materials that fuel the overwhelming majority of our vehicles, heat our homes, and power our manufacturing base are in the dock.