Army Corps of Engineers did not consider Dakota Access Pipeline impact: Judge

Dakota Access Pipeline
Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was halted last year due due to protests, but the line began shipping oil at the beginning of June. Reuters file photo by Josh Morgan.

Unclear if judge will stop Dakota Access Pipeline oil flow

Two Native American tribes who opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline scored a legal victory this week when a US District Judge ruled the Army Corps of Engineers did not fully consider the pipeline’s impact on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

According to a Reuters report, US District Judge James Boasberg ruled in Washington on Wednesday that the tribe’s hunting, fishing and environmental justice rights were not taken into consideration adequately in the environmental review completed by the Army Corp of Engineers.

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The Standing Rock Sioux maintain that the pipeline poses a danger to its water supply and sacred lands.

While the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux cheered the victory, the tribes are unsure if the judge will actually stop the Bakken oil from flowing through the pipeline.

Legal exports say the decision by Boasberg offers the judge a great deal of leeway, depending on what he considers are the environmental impacts of keeping the pipeline open.

“Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent he should apply the traditional injunction test to determine exactly what may occur – or not – during additional environmental analysis,” Zeke Williams, managing director of the energy and natural resources practice at Lewis Bess Williams & Weese in Denver told Reuters.

The parties involved, including the owner of the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners Inc, are scheduled to reconvene on Wednesday.

The two tribes are hoping the judge will stop oil from flowing through the contentious pipeline while he considers the possibility of additional environmental review.

“Our position has always been that until they can do this correctly, the pipeline shouldn’t be operating,” Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the Standing Rock Sioux, told Reuters.

A statement issued by ETP said pipeline operations would continue as the so-called “limited” process reviews the issues raised.

“Dakota Access believes the record supports the fact that the Corps properly evaluated” those issues, ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado said.

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The $3.8 billion pipeline began shipping oil at the beginning of June and has commitments to ship 520,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken area of North Dakota.

The line was delayed beginning last summer and into the winter due to massive protests on federal land in North Dakota and other US locations.

According to Reuters, two of the tribes’ earlier arguments had been rejected by the same judge.

“This ruling was a bit of a curve ball given the judge’s prior orders,” U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota told Reuters. He does not think operations would be halted during review.

“(The judge) seems to be sending a message that consultation needs to be considered and documented better in future cases like this,” he told Reuters.

Deborah Ann Sivas, director of Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program at Stanford Law School, says under the National Environmental Policy Act, the normal procedure would be to halt operations during the review period.

Speaking with Reuters, she said NEPA’s purpose is “ensure that decision makers are informed about project impacts, alternatives, and mitigation before they allow a project to go forward.”





1 thought on “Army Corps of Engineers did not consider Dakota Access Pipeline impact: Judge”

  1. ETP and Dakota Access will be fine. I checked with a major investment bank, whose Analysts consulted legal experts, who said: “……We’ve read a decent amount of 3rd-party legal analyses that believe a shutdown of any length to be unlikely. Notably, the same judge that issued this request has ruled against opponents in the past based on arguments the pipeline would do irreparable harm. Moreover, the Corps should have enough time to comply with the court’s request, providing answers to wildlife impacts, etc. Finally, it is worth noting there is currently a natural gas pipeline in operation under the same body of water.” Shutdown won’t happen, ETP had all necessary approvals, and the hunting and wildlife et. al. issues cited by the Judge can be dealt with quickly by the Army Corps of Engineers. Bottom line to the Indians: go back and get drunk. Your efforts to kill a major economic asset of the U.S. are toast. Your fraudulent, bullshit obstruction is all for naught. There are already 8 pipelines in and under the target waterway, and DAPL does not even cross your lands. What despicable outlaws you are. I have a pipeline crossing my personal property where my home is located and my children live. Why am I not offended, while you are distraught over the fate of some old bones of a bunch of Indian ancestors 70 miles from the DAPL? These ancestors were probably criminals like you, and you are just a bunch of opportunists, who have done nothing but harm our country.

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