Bloomberg Law recently published an op-ed by GAIN strategic adviser Col. Tom Magness arguing that facts should drive pipeline approval and noting the unfair criticism targeting the Army Corps of Engineers who are simply following the process. The piece highlights the Corps’ recent differing actions on the Line 3 and Line 5 projects, and highlights the Corps’ role with DAPL.
In its 219-year history, the Army Corps of Engineers has flown under the radar by many regards. However, this has not been the case since highly-politicized, high-profile pipeline cases have come to the surface. As the Corps takes on different environmental concerns, Magness says that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach that will apply to all pipelines. Each situation has to be assessed with precision and evaluated by facts, not being swayed by loud opinion.
Environmentalists are hoping to see that the momentum from the Keystone XL cancellation will roll over to Dakota Access. However, if treated on a case-by-case basis, which Magness believes we can trust the Corps to do, DAPL will stand. After more than four years of safe operation, DAPL remains the safest and most efficient way to transport oil over truck and train. These facts speak loudly, and, despite the vocal minority of environmentalists, the Corps has sided with the facts thus far.
Magness writes in part, “This is not the first time that the Corps professionals have been the target of criticism for simply doing their jobs, following the facts, and issuing the correct—albeit unpopular with some—decisions. Much like the Enbridge projects, the Corps found itself in the middle of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) political firestorm. Environmental groups were calling for DAPL to be shut down while an EIS was being conducted. As usual, the Corps followed the process in place and determined that the pipeline could remain operational, relaying their position to U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on two separate occasions. In turn, Boasberg ruled in May that DAPL would not be shut down pending the environmental review before ultimately dismissing the case in June.”