Federal judge rejects Dakota Access Pipeline permits, calls for do-over

In a dramatic turnaround, a federal judge has ruled that permits to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline must be reconsidered, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has demanded the flow of oil through the pipeline be stopped.

Completion of the controversial pipeline was stopped by the Obama Administration last December, with a call for an environmental-impact statement to assess risks.

However, the judge wrote in his ruling, “As we all know, elections have consequences, and the government’s position on the easement shifted significantly once President Trump assumed office on January 20, 2017.”

President Trump called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue the permits, which it did shortly after he took office. Completion of the pipeline swiftly followed, as contractors drilled under a lake formed by a dam on the Missouri River, to hook up the two ends of the pipeline. The flow of oil began June 1.

But on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg for the District of Columbia said in a 91-page decision that the Corps did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on the tribe’s fishing rights, hunting rights, or issues of environmental justice when it issued the permits needed to complete the project. The Corps must now reconsider those aspects under the judge’s demand that the agency substantiate its decision to issue the permits.

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