Great news for pro-Native American supporters and environmentalists alike: a federal judge has ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline completion permits need reconsideration.
It’s just the latest major plot twist in an oil flow infrastructure development programme that’s become known around the world.
US District Judge James Boasberg gave his Dakota Access Pipeline verdict – a 91-page document - on 14 June 2017. Its key point is that the US Army Corps of Engineers didn’t take the pipeline’s full environmental impact into consideration. The agency must now revisit its analysis.
In Judge Boasberg’s opinion, the US Army Corps of Engineers acted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. What it didn’t do, though, was weigh up what could happen to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe if there was an oil spill.
‘The Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial’, wrote the judge.
Pipeline Legal Challenges
There have been numerous previous pipeline legal challenges but none have supplied compelling enough evidence of the Dakota structure’s environmental damage potential. Now, though, Boasberg concedes that new US President Donald Trump’s federal permit issues of early 2017 weren’t perhaps entirely legal.
“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”, stated Dave Archambault II, Standing Rock Tribal Chairman. "We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately."
Dakota Access Pipeline
Stretching between Illinois and the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, 1,170 miles away, the Dakota Access Pipeline went into commercial operation at the start of this month, to the dismay of many. It remains active following the judge’s ruling but may not be after new rounds of hearings begin on 21 June.
Donald Trump had greenlighted the Dakota Access pipeline in January 2017. Only last week, he spoke publicly of his pride at having brought the pipeline to operational fruition. “It was dead 120 days ago, and now it officially just opened for business”, he said. “Very proud of that."
Main image copyright Tony Webster – courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Used as per Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license