In the two months leading up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to issue to the Dakota Access pipeline project an allotment of Nationwide 12 permits (NWP) — a de facto fast-track federal authorization of the project — an army of oil industry players submitted comments to the Corps to ensure that fast-track authority remains in place going forward.
This fast-track permitting process is used to bypass more rigorous environmental and public review for major pipeline infrastructure projects by treating them as smaller projects.
Oil and gas industry groups submitted comments in response to the Corps’ June 1 announcement in the Federal Registerthat it was “requesting comment on all aspects of these proposed nationwide permits” and that it wanted “comments on the proposed new and modified NWPs, as well as the NWP general conditions and definitions.” Based on the comments received, in addition to other factors, the Corps will make a decision in the coming months about the future of the use of the controversial NWP 12, which has become a key part of President Barack Obama’s climate and energy legacy.
Beyond Dakota Access, the Army Corps of Engineers (and by extension the Obama Administration) also used NWP 12 to approve key and massive sections of both Enbridge’s Flanagan South pipeline and TransCanada’s southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline known as the Gulf Coast Pipeline. Comments submitted as a collective by environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, several 350.org… local chapters, the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, Corporate Ethics International, and others, allege NWP 12 abuses by the Obama administration.