FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline, nearly three years after it began carrying oil.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that the easement approval for the pipeline remains “highly controversial” under federal environmental law, and a more extensive review is necessary than the environmental assessment that was done.
The pipeline was the subject of months of protests, sometimes violent, during its construction in late 2016 and early 2017 near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The Standing Rock tribe continued to press litigation against the pipeline even after it began carrying oil from North Dakota across several states to a shipping point in Illinois in June 2017.
Boasberg ordered both parties to submit briefs on whether the pipeline should continue operating during the period of the new environmental review.
The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile (1,886 kilometer) underground pipeline crosses beneath the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock reservation. The tribe draws its water from the river and fears pollution. Texas-based Energy Transfer insisted the pipeline would be safe.
The Standing Rock Sioux want the pipeline shut down and more study done. The Corps wanted Boasberg to rule in favor of its August 2018 finding that no more environmental study was needed.