Coalition Files Appeal Of Illinois Commerce Commission Decision To Approve Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion


Liz Doherty, 978-578-3699,,
Jesús Canchola Sánchez, NRDC, 312-847-6808

CHICAGO, IL -- Save Our Illinois Land (SOIL), the Sierra Club, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and area landowner William Klingele filed an appeal this week of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) decision to approve the expansion of the pump stations for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline (ETCOP), which will enable the pipelines to nearly double the amount of crude oil they transport.

According to the appeal, the ICC neglected to adequately justify its decision and should have conducted a more thorough analysis of the proposed capacity expansion. Instead, the ICC declined to consider the risk to the public and whether additional transportation capacity is actually needed, and deferred to the pipelines owner’s desire for greater market share and plans to export the additional crude.

The ICC’s decision glosses over key information about the dangers from, and lack of need for, nearly doubling the capacity of the DAPL and ETCOP, which are owned by subsidiaries of Texas-based oil corporation Energy Transfer Partners (ETP). The decision disregards the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s finding that DAPL’s leak detection system is inadequate. The U.S. District Court similarly noted that DAPL’s operator, Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. (Sunoco), has one of the lower performing safety records of any operator in the industry for spills and releases. The ICC refused to examine Sunoco’s track record and ignored the operator’s admitted inability to detect leaks.

“As our expert Dr. James Hansen, who first testified to Congress in 1988 about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate, said this increase in capacity could result in the release of approximately 97 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent per year. That is roughly equal to the emissions from 20 million cars. We can no longer conduct ‘business as usual.’ We must consider climate change in every decision,” said Deni Mathews, Save Our Illinois Land (SOIL).

In filing the appeal, John Albers, lead counsel for the coalition, stated, “The Commission neglected to consider significant evidence of the risk posed by the expansion and lack of need by Bakken shippers for additional take-away capacity, particularly in light of the pandemic’s impact on the oil industry, and specifically the Bakken region. It’s also particularly noteworthy that the Commission ignored a filing by the State of Illinois in federal court linking DAPL to climate change and arguing that the pipeline be shut down.”

“This is not a minor change to a benign tube,” said J.C. Kibbey, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “Doubling its capacity and adding infrastructure should require more scrutiny. This project undercuts Illinois' effort to combat climate change and embrace clean energy, while introducing significant risk to the state's waterways and farmland as oil passes through our borders. Any decision on this controversial pipeline needs to look at the significant climate impacts and safety concerns."

“A spill from this pipeline would threaten our water supply and create a dangerous and expensive mess, and a court has ruled that its leak detection system is inadequate” said Jack Darin, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter Director. “Those risks to our environment and our communities were not considered in granting this expansion.”

About Save Our Illinois Land (SOIL)

Save Our Illinois Land is a coalition of community members and landowners across the state of Illinois. We are concerned about the impact of pipeline infrastructure on our land, waterways and our fellow citizens. Save Our Illinois Land (SOIL) is focused on stopping the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the state of Illinois and throughout the Great Lakes region of the United States.

About NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.8 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit