Court Vacates Decision to Approve Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion

CHICAGO, IL - The Illinois 4th District Appellate Court issued its decision in the appeal of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) decision approving the Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline expansion. Save Our Illinois Land (SOIL), the Sierra Club, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and area landowner William Klingele had filed an appeal in January 2021.  

The court vacated the approval of the pipeline expansion and remanded it back to the ICC, finding that the ICC misinterpreted "public need” and that ICC abused its discretion in finding irrelevant the objectors’ evidence that the pipeline’s operator, Sunoco, had been fined for safety and environmental violations.  

Following are quotes from the litigants: 

“We are gratified that the Appellate Court has vacated the Illinois Commerce Commission’s flawed approval of DAPL and ETCO’s expansion,” said Deni Mathews, chairperson of SOIL. “We’ve worked hard since we first intervened in this case in July 2019. Two and a half years later, we appreciate that key arguments of our appeal will be reconsidered.” 

“This project would threaten Illinoisans' land, water, and climate, while providing us with little or no benefit.” said J.C. Kibbey, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The ruling is another signal that Illinois should not allow this dangerous and controversial pipeline expansion within its borders.” 

“Save Our Illinois Land, Sierra Club, NRDC, and landowner Bill Klingele are pleased that the Court vacated the Illinois Commerce Commission’s flawed approval of DAPL and ETCO’s unnecessary capacity expansion,” said John Albers, lead counsel for the coalition. “The Court’s agreement that Sunoco’s poor record as a pipeline operator is relevant to the ICC’s decision and conclusion that exports are not a proper component in considering public interest will hopefully lead to a just result in the end. We are still evaluating the various aspects of the decision and will take appropriate action.” 

"We are glad to see the court recognize that the ICC was wrong to approve this reckless expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline,” said Catherine Collentine, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “DAPL threatens critical water resources and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and running even more dirty oil through it could be disastrous for communities across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and here in Illinois. We will continue to work to shut down this dangerous oil pipeline altogether." 

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

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