Dakota Access Pipeline May Have to Interupt Operations to Redo Environmental Review

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A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration must conduct additional environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline, handing a limited victory to Native American tribes fighting the administration's decision to move forward with the project.

The judge did not render a decision on whether the pipeline - which has been transporting oil since June 1 - should remain operational while the Army Corps reconsiders the environmental study.

Boasberg ruled that the federal government "substantially complied" with the federal environmental permitting law that governs projects such as Dakota Access, a 1,170-mile $3.8 billion pipeline that can carry up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day.

"Our position has always been that until they can do this correctly, the pipeline shouldn't be operating", said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the Standing Rock Sioux.

"The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests", Archambault stated. The protests died off with the clearing of the main encampment in February and the completion of the pipeline.

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"Without any acknowledgment of or attention to the impact of an oil spill on the Tribe's fishing and hunting rights, despite Plaintiff's efforts to flag the issue, the EA - in this limited respect - was inadequate", he wrote.

The case is Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 16-cv-01534, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

"The Dakota Access Pipeline remains one of the safest - if not the safest - pipeline ever constructed". The tribes and pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners are ordered to appear in court next week to decide next legal steps, and the tribes are expected to argue for a full shutdown of pipeline operations. Hollywood celebrities including Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio flocked to the Standing Rock reservation to lend support.

"While we wish the flow of oil would be stopped until the hearings are completed, we trust that through prayer and continued vigilance we will stop the flow of oil and make Energy Transfer Partners and this administration keep fossil fuels in the ground", Braun added. "Instead, it simply reasoned that adherence to Dakota Access's response plan 'would minimize potential impacts on aquatic wildlife, '" the ruling continued. Five days after his inauguration, President Trump reversed that decision and construction on the pipeline soon resumed. As preparations for service began, the pipeline and a feeder line leaked more than 100 gallons of oil in western North Dakota in separate incidents in March, and the Dakota Access line leaked 84 gallons of oil in northern South Dakota in April.

Media quoted the legal representative of the plaintiffs as saying that they will demand the suspension of the pipeline while the Army Corps reviews its assessment. The tribe will also present its arguments, including a request to shut down the pipeline immediately.