Enbridge Inc.'s pipeline to carry tar sands oil between Oklahoma and Illinois can proceed, a federal judge ruled, as companies expand their capacity to move petroleum in the U.S.
"Because a private company is constructing the 589-mile pipeline on mostly privately owned land that is entirely within the territorial borders of the United States, no federal statute authorizes the federal government to oversee or regulate the construction project," U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington said today in a written ruling.
The judge rejected arguments by the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation that the failure to conduct an environmental impact review of the pipeline violated the National Environmental Protection Act.
"Plaintiffs are wrong to insist that any federal agency had an obligation under NEPA or any other statute to conduct an environmental review" of the pipeline's impact, Jackson wrote.
The environmental groups said in their complaint that the pipeline would have significant impacts, requiring a cleared right of way "through thousands of water bodies, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and other sensitive areas," and "a vast network of pump stations, electric transmission lines, and access roads."
The pipeline will carry crude oil from Pontiac, Illinois, to Cushing, Oklahoma, according to court papers. Enbridge and TransCanada Corp., both Calgary-based, and Kinder Morgan Inc., based in Houston, are expanding capacity to move growing volumes of oil from oil sands and shale.
The case is Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1:13-cv-01239, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).