U.S. Energy Secretary blames activists for big pipeline setbacks

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette speaks with journalists during a roundtable in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 2, 2020. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said on Monday that he blames activists for a pair of high-profile pipeline setbacks in recent days, including a court’s decision to force Energy Transfer Partners LP to close its Dakota Access crude oil pipeline over its environmental impact study.

Asked during an interview on Fox Business Network if he blamed activists for the setbacks, Brouillette said “I do.”

“I’m not quite sure what they’re cheering except for perhaps the loss of jobs all throughout America,” he said.

The Dakota Access pipeline became a symbol of the environmental and indigenous rights movements in 2017 after Native American and climate groups sought to block its construction with months of protests.

A U.S. District Court on Monday ordered its operator Energy Transfer LP to shut and empty the line, the largest from the North Dakota shale oil fields, within 30 days due to an inadequate environmental impact study.

Separately, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy on Sunday announced they would cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, meant to move natural gas from West Virginia to East Coast markets, due to “ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty” surrounding the project.

That project was also the target of environmental protests.

“It’s a lost opportunity because of the number of jobs that would have been created in places like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina,” Brouillette said.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Valdmanis, Editing by Franklin Paul and Marguerita Choy