May 18, 2020

MSCI Partners Work To Ensure Pipeline Development Can Continue

As Bloomberg Law and UPI explain, a federal district court judge in Montana issued an order on May 11 that upholds an earlier ruling that shut down the use of an Army Corps of Engineers general permit for pipeline projects, potentially delaying dozens of projects across the country.

As Connecting the Dots reported previously, in a case relating to the Keystone XL pipeline, Morris had ruled that the Corps’ nationwide permit was invalid because the Corps failed to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to see if it would endanger animals and plants protected by the Endangered Species Act. That ruling struck down the Corps’ entire Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) program, under which utility projects, including oil and gas pipelines, power lines, broadband infrastructure and water lines, are issued blanket project-wide permits under a streamlined approval process.

The Corps appealed the ruling, asking for a stay of implementation. Judge Morris’ order last denied the request for a stay.

The Corps is now expected to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The timeline for that appeal has not yet been set. In the meantime, pipeline water crossing permits issued by ACE under its NWP 12 program are invalid.

In advance of the appeal, the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance, which the Metals Service Center Institute is a part of, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have jointly filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit urging the Court to stay implementation of Morris’ ruling. The brief said Morris’ ruling, if allowed to stand, would disrupt the construction of critical energy infrastructure, and result in the loss of tens of thousands of construction jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity during and after the COVID-19 crisis.