Judge orders environmental review of Dakota oil pipeline

June 15, 2017
The Dakota Access oil pipeline route under the Missouri River and man-made Lake Oahe in North Dakota was the subject of months of protests, as Native Americans and their supporters argued it ran the risk of potentially polluting the water

A federal judge ordered an environmental review of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline on Wednesday in a dramatic twist that opens the possibility that the project could be halted.

US District Judge James Boasberg in Washington said the US Army Corps of Engineers did not fully consider the effects of a possible oil spill on the fishing and hunting rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

The decision is a partial victory for the tribe, which led high-profile protests against the $3.8-billion, 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) .

Although the Corps of Engineers "substantially complied" with federal environmental laws, "it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial," Boasberg wrote in a 91-page decision.

"To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the court," he said.

The pipeline began pumping crude oil delivery from North Dakota to Illinois in May.

Although Boasberg did not suspend deliveries, overseen by pipeline operator Energy Transfer Partners, his order indicated that that could be considered at a later date.

The pipeline route under the Missouri River and man-made Lake Oahe in North Dakota was the subject of months of protests, as Native Americans and their supporters argued it ran the risk of potentially polluting the water.

Under former president Barack Obama, the Corps had called for further review and halted construction. But President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing officials to reconsider soon after taking office in January.

The Army Corps of Engineers cleared the way in February for the project to be finished, after which the tribe sued the Corps over its approval.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault hailed the latest decision.

"We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately," he said in a statement.

"The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests."

Judge Boasberg ordered both sides to appear before him next Wednesday to decide next legal steps.

Explore further: Dakota Access company seeks to block pipeline study

Related Stories

Dakota Access company seeks to block pipeline study

January 17, 2017

The company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline wants a federal judge to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from launching a full environmental study of the $3.8 billion pipeline's disputed crossing of a Missouri ...

Judge to hear arguments on Dakota Access pipeline work

February 13, 2017

Two American Indian tribes have asked a federal judge to stop construction of the last stretch of the four-state Dakota Access pipeline, adding a religious freedom component to their argument that it would endanger their ...

Could Dakota Access pipeline move after permit is denied?

December 6, 2016

The Army Corps of Engineers' refusal to grant a permit for the Dakota Access oil pipeline to cross beneath the Missouri River has focused more attention on alternative routes, but several other options already have been considered ...

Obama says Army Corps examining Dakota oil pipeline route

November 2, 2016

President Barack Obama has called for "peace" and "restraint" on the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline, and says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is examining whether the four-state project can be rerouted in southern North ...

Army Corps wants more study on Dakota Access oil pipeline

November 15, 2016

The Army Corps of Engineers on Monday said it has finished a review of the disputed Dakota Access pipeline but wants more study and tribal input before deciding whether to allow it to cross under a Missouri River reservoir ...

Recommended for you

The world needs to rethink the value of water

November 23, 2017

Research led by Oxford University highlights the accelerating pressure on measuring, monitoring and managing water locally and globally. A new four-part framework is proposed to value water for sustainable development to ...

'Lost' 99% of ocean microplastics to be identified with dye?

November 23, 2017

The smallest microplastics in our oceans – which go largely undetected and are potentially harmful – could be more effectively identified using an innovative and inexpensive new method, developed by researchers at the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.