The U.S. Court of Appeals today upheld most of a ruling against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The 36-page ruling revokes a Corps-granted easement for the pipeline to cross beneath Lake Oahe on land near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.
The easement was granted with the Corps not conducting a full Environmental Impact Study, or EIS, which Standing Rock claimed was illegal.
A district court agreed, revoking the easement, ordering an EIS and requiring Dakota Access to shutdown the pipeline and empty it of oil until the EIS was conducted and the easement reissued.
That decision was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
That court today upheld the order for the Environmental Impact Statement and revocation of the easement. But the court reversed the order to shut down the pipeline, allowing it to continue operating.
The Environmental Impact Statement will examine the risks of an oil spill and evaluate alternative routes that don’t impose risks on the Standing Rock Tribe.
“We are pleased that the [court] affirmed the necessity of a full environmental review, and we look forward to showing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers why this pipeline is too dangerous to operate,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith in a prepared statement.
A statement from Earthjustice, an organization representing the Tribe in court, said, “This decision affirms what the Tribe has been saying from the start — this pipeline is a threat to clean water and Indigenous sovereignty, and we must examine the consequences it brings for the future.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline has been the subject of on-going legal actions and protests dating back to its construction in 2016.
It’s a 1,172-mile-long underground oil pipeline that begins in the Bakken formation in northwest North Dakota and continues through South Dakota and Iowa to an oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois.
Oil began officially flowing through the pipeline in 2017. It is operated by Energy Transfer Partners, headquartered in Dallas, Texas.
It is currently moving more than half a million gallons of crude oil daily. Energy Transfer Partners is working to double that capacity through a pump station currently under construction 5 miles west of Linton in Emmons County.
You can download and read the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling here.
You can read the Earthjustice statement here.