A federal judge ruled Wednesday that aspects of the environmental review on the highly contentious Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) were inadequate and subject to reconsideration.
U.S. District Court for the District of Columia Judge James Boasberg did not shut down the nearly 1,200-mile-long pipeline but did say that he would consider that option after his decision. He ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers “substantially complied” with permitting law that governs pipelines.
However, the government “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,” Boasberg wrote in a 91-page opinion.
The Army Corps would need to conduct a new review of DAPL, the multi-billion dollar-pipeline that has come under intense scrutiny since former President Barack Obama blocked its construction last December.
DAPL drew the ire of out-of-state protesters and the Standing Rock Sioux, an American Indian tribe in North Dakota whose members sued to block completion of a small section of the line near the reservation.
Activists believe the pipeline’s construction trampled on tribal lands and could poison the tribe’s waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe. Boasberg noted Wednesday that part of the original permitting decision that cleared the way for the pipeline was inadequate, as the tribes had insisted.
“The agency failed to adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on Standing Rock’s fishing and hunting rights and on environmental justice, and in February 2017, it did not sufficiently weigh the degree to which the project’s effects are likely to be highly controversial in light of critiques of its scientific methods and data,” he wrote.
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