Energy Transfer has the final approval it needed for a proposed expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline, which already takes up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken to market.
In its order on Wednesday, the Illinois Commerce Commission said allowing the expansion would promote both security and convenience for the general public.
Environmental groups in Illinois had been opposing the matter and told the Commission that a pandemic-induced downturn for oil and gas has reduced the need for expansion.
Dakota Access in its most recent earnings call told investors it plans to have the expanded capacity online in late 2021.
That’s even as a lawsuit continues in the U.S District Court of Columbia that will determine whether the pipeline must cease operation and empty of oil while it conducts an Environmental Impact Study, a lengthier environmental study than the one originally completed for the pipeline’s crossing of federal land at Lake Oahe.
Dakota Access appealed the order requiring the Environmental Impact Study, and won a temporary stay of an order to cease operations and empty of oil while that case proceeds. It is set for arguments on Nov. 4 — one day after the 2020 General Election.
But the Appeals Court also sent the case back to the lower court to determine if injunctive relief would have been more appropriate, giving the Standing Rock Sioux, which opposes the pipeline, another bite at the aple. A deadline of Dec. 18 has been set for legal arguments and responses for that round two.
Meanwhile, Dakota Access is pursuing completion of the court-ordered Environmental Impact Study concurrent with all these legal maneuvers, a process the federal government has estimated will take 13 months.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled a virtual hearing for the pipeline at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 and 16 to gather input on the scope of the court-ordered study that will evaluate the easement across Lake Oahe on the Missouri River.
Scoping comments for the study may also be mailed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, ATTN: CENWO-PMA-C (DAPL NOI) 1616 Capitol Avenue, Omaha, NE 68102. They may also be emailed to NWO-DAPL-EIS@usace.army.mil or left via voice mail at 402-995-2036.
All comments must be post-marked or received by Oct. 26 to be included in the analysis.