In whats being hailed a significant victory for pipelines opponents, a judge said he would consider whether operations must halt until assessment is redone
A federal judge has handed a lifeline to efforts to block the Dakota Access pipeline, ruling Wednesday that the US Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately consider the possible impacts of an oil spill where the pipeline passes under the Missouri River.
US district judge James Boasberg said in a 91-page decision that the corps failed to take into account how a spill might affect fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipelines effects are likely to be highly controversial.
The judge said the army must redo its environmental analysis in certain sections and he would consider later whether the pipeline must halt operations in the meantime. A status conference is scheduled for next week.
Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has led opposition to the pipeline, called it a significant victory.
The pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) announced earlier this month that it started shipping oil to customers. ETP maintains that the 1,200-mile pipeline is safe, but the Standing Rock Cheyenne River, Yankton and Oglala Sioux tribes in the Dakotas fear environmental harm.
ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado did not immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment on Boasbergs ruling. A spokeswoman for the US Department of Justice, Nicole Navas Oxman, said the department was reviewing the ruling.
The decision marks an important turning point, said Jan Hasselman, attorney for the nonprofit Earthjustice, which is representing the tribes in the lawsuit.
Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have been disregarded by builders of the Dakota Access pipeline and the Trump administration … prompting a well-deserved global outcry, Hasselman said.