Federal Judge Orders Environmental Reassessment of DAPL


But a recent ruling from a federal judge has put its future in question once again.

It was unclear whether the judge would agree that the line should be shut.

In a statement, ETP said pipeline operations will continue as the "limited" process unfolds to review the issues raised.

The courts have previously rejected legal arguments to shut down the pipeline. When the town raised concerns about a potential oil spill, the pipeline was rerouted to the south in order to go under the river near the tribe's reservation.

The judge hasn't said whether the pipeline will have to stop operating while the Army Corps conducts another analysis. The Administration ordered the Corps to supplement an earlier Environmental Assessment with a more in-depth Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline. Although the vocal opposition to DAPL attracted national attention and stalled the project, Trump issued an executive order days after being sworn-in that gave the Army Corps the green light to finish construction. "For now we'll keep hoping for something that prevents the flow of oil". After years of wrangling with the Obama administration through endless court challenges, the final approvals were received and the business of getting energy products to market is underway. "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".

Boasberg found Wednesday that the impact to the quality of the human environment was one area that the Army Corps failed to adequately address before granting the easement.

"The EA is silent, for instance, on the distinct cultural practices of the tribe and the social and economic factors that might amplify its experience of the environmental effects of an oil spill".

The pipeline has been the focus of legal maneuvering and protests for months. Hollywood celebrities including Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio flocked to the Standing Rock reservation to lend support.

Yesterday's opinion concludes that "the court is hard pressed to conclude that the Corps' selection of a 0.5-mile buffer was reasonable".

It's not just the tribe welcoming Boasberg's decision.

The two sides are ordered to reappear in court on June 21.

Likewise, the GAIN coalition, a pro-infrastructure group, hailed the ruling for affirming much of the Corps' review.

Image: The Dakota Access Pipeline during its construction in central Iowa.

Boasberg ruled that part of the original permitting decision that cleared the way for the pipeline was inadequate, as the tribes had insisted.

"Such a move, of course, would carry serious consequences that a court should not lightly impose", Boasberg says. The schedule will likely be set during next Wednesday's hearing. After the Obama administration denied the easement permit on December 4, the Army Corps said it would conduct the environmental impact statement. Last summer, thousands of people gathered near the construction site to try to shut down the pipeline through protest.