Judge: Corps must decide next move on Dakota Access pipeline

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must outline its plans for the Dakota Access oil pipeline after an appeals court confirmed the line is operating without a key permit, a federal judge said Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg has set a status hearing for Feb. 10 to discuss the impact of Tuesday’s opinion by the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals that upheld Boasberg’s ruling ordering the Corps to conduct a full environmental impact review. Opponents of the pipeline want it shut down immediately.

Boasberg said in his one-sentence order that the Corps needs to show how it “expects to proceed” without a federal permit granting easement for the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile (1,886 kilometer) pipeline to cross beneath Lake Oahe, a reservoir along the Missouri River, which is maintained by the Corps.

The location of the crossing is just north of the the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The tribe, which draws its water from the river, says it fears pollution. Texas-based pipeline owner Energy Transfer maintains that it is safe.

Boasberg said in an April 2020 order that the Corps has not adequately considered how an oil spill under the Missouri River might affect Standing Rock’s fishing and hunting rights, or whether it might disproportionately affect the tribal community.

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