American Oil and Gas Reporter - August 2017 - 19

IndustryDigest
would conduct a review of the 11
designations and expansions of National
Marine Sanctuaries and Marine
National Monuments that had been
made since April 28, 2007. According
to the June 26 Federal Register, the
Secretary of Commerce sought
comments on the matter, which were
due July 26. r

Federal Judge Allows
NDPC To Intervene In
Dakota Access Case

BISMARCK, N.D.-A federal judge
has approved the North Dakota
Petroleum Council's request to
intervene in the Dakota Access Pipeline
case being heard in the U.S. District
Court for the District of Columbia.
In the latest legal battle in Standing
Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River
Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and Dakota Access LLC, the
two Native American tribal groups
allege the Corps violated the National
Environmental Policy Act when it
considered DAPL's environmental
impact. Earlier this year, the tribes
asked U.S. District Judge James
Boasberg for a preliminary injunction to
stop construction based on religious
objections (AOGR, April 2017, pg. 14).
According to media reports, in June
Boasberg ruled the Corps had
substantially complied with NEPA
during the permitting process, but
needed to re-study and emphasize
potential risks from oil spills on hunting
and fishing rights. In late July, it told
the court any such review could not be
finished before the end of the year.
The Corps and Dakota Access
pushed the court to not stop work on
constructing part of the pipeline that
runs under Lake Oahe in North Dakota
during this new review process,
pointing out the pipeline now is fully
functional.
The Corps argues the court is
unlikely to reverse its earlier decisions
in DAPL's favor because any potential
oil leak from the pipeline segment,
which is being drilled 100 feet deep, is
highly unlikely to ever reach the lake.
NDPC was one of several trade and
business groups seeking permission to
file an amicus brief opposing a
temporary shutdown. Other petitioning
groups include American Petroleum

Institute, Association of Oil Pipe Lines,
and the American Fuel & Petrochemical
Manufacturers.
Even a temporary pipeline shutdown
would cause enormous harm to North
Dakota's oil and gas industry, NDPC's
court filing warns, including temporary
loss of production volumes and
increased costs as operators shift to rail
transportation. "Shutting down DAPL
during the remand in this case would
pull the rug out from under the North
Dakota oil industry, and also would
harm the state's royalty owners and all
of its citizens," NDPC asserts.
Energy Transfer Partners, which
owns Dakota Access, estimates it could
cost as much as $234 million to shut
DAPL, with another $90 million in lost
revenue every month. The closure
would impact 16 pipelines that support
the Dakota Access system, it warns. r

Western Governors
Urge States Take Lead
For Future ESA Efforts

DENVER-State agencies should
have the option to lead recovery efforts
for animals and plants listed under the
Endangered Species Act, the Western
Governors' Association recommends to
the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and
the National Oceanic & Atmospheric
Administration's National Marine
Fisheries Service.
In its recommendations, the result
of its Species Conservation and
Endangered Species Act Initiative,
WGA says a team should be created
to work specifically with a listed
species, and should be tasked with
developing a recovery plan within 12
months of a listing. That plan should
include criteria, the fulfillment of
which would require the team to
recommend delisting or downlisting
the status to the two federal agencies,
which would then be required to
initiate an ESA review.
WGA says the initiative seeks to
share best practices in species
management, promote the role of states
in species conservation and explore
ways to make the ESA process more
efficient.
WGA also recommends:
* Amending ESA to provide the
two agencies more flexibility in
prioritizing species petitions. Species in

immediate risk of extinction would
receive the highest priority, while
species with ongoing conservation
efforts would be placed in a lower
category.
* Amending ESA to create an
exemption for the agencies to defer 12month findings for a species considered
for listing when a conservation plan is
being developed or implemented,
allowing time to complete data
collection related to the petitioned
species; or species for which listing
would provide limited conservation
benefits within the foreseeable future.
* Requiring the Secretary of the
Interior to determine whether to
designate critical habitat for a species,
with that decision dependent on whether
such designation is needed for species
recovery. If habitat is designated as
critical, the designation must include
recovery objectives and plans.
"While the initiative has closely
examined the ESA, the effort goes well
beyond consideration of the act alone,"
WGA says. "Governors also are seeking
to encourage voluntary conservation-
through early identification of sensitive
species and establishment of
institutional frameworks that incentivize
collaborative voluntary conservation-
thus avoiding the need to list species in
the first place."
Governors from 19 states and three
U.S.-flag islands make up the WGA,
which the group says was created in
2015 to develop bipartisan policies and
collective action on issues of critical
importance to the western United
States. r

Congressmen Probe
Russian Attempts To
Influence U.S. Energy

WASHINGTON-U.S. Representative
Lamar Smith, R-Tx., who chairs the
House Science, Space and Technology
Committee, along with Energy
Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber,
R-Tx., have asked the U.S. Treasury
Department to investigate allegations that
Russian state-sponsored entities have
interfered with U.S. energy markets by
funneling Russian funds to environmental
groups opposed to fossil fuels.
"If you connect the dots, it is clear
that Russia is funding U.S.
environmental groups in an effort to
AUGUST 2017 19



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