BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) A judge's ruling that might open the door for at least a temporary shutdown of the disputed Dakota Access pipeline surprised the industry that hailed the project as a "game changer" for North Dakota oil. In a 2014 decision, for example, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission violated NEPA by segmenting its review of a Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. project, but the court allowed the pipeline to remain in service while FERC supplemented the review.
The Dakota Access oil pipeline may already be carrying crude. The Tribe will ask the judge in a status update next week that oil must stop flowing through the pipeline while the remand is in effect, according to the Seattle Times.
The judge writes that the standard remedy in this situation would be to vacate the pipeline's permits and easement, thereby halting pipeline operations until the Army Corps is in compliance with environmental procedures. "Even though a spill is not certain to occur at Lake Oahe, the Corps still had to consider the impacts of such an event on the environment", the judge said.
Boasberg likewise found the environmental assessment lacking in relation to how a spill would impact environmental-justice issues.
As we have previously reported, "during President Trump's first month in office, he reversed a decision by the Obama administration and called on the Army to expedite the approval process for the section of the pipeline that had not yet been built". Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said, Earthjustice reported.
"The EA is silent, for instance, on the distinct cultural practices of the tribe and the social and economic factors that might amplify its experience of the environmental effects of an oil spill".
He also criticized the Corps' assessment of the environmental justice issues in its original environmental assessment.
Yesterday's opinion concludes that "the court is hard pressed to conclude that the Corps' selection of a 0.5-mile buffer was reasonable".
He said the Corps' conclusion that Standing Rock would not be disproportionately harmed by a spill was "bare-bones" and the Corps needed to offer more.
Boasberg rejected two earlier complaints by the tribes. 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 fight against Energy Transfer Partners and the pipeline had many sympathizers, such as tribes from the northwest and around the country, as well as environmental activists and others.
A woman walking with a solidarity message during a rally with the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in Toronto, Canada (November 5, 2016).
Despite the ruling, the court did not decide if Dakota Access will cease operations of the pipeline.
Boasberg has scheduled a briefing next week to determine what happens next, including hearing tribal arguments that oil should stop running through the pipeline while regulators reconsider the project's permits.