HomeNewsFederal Court Orders New EIS For Dakota Access Pipeline

Federal Court Orders New EIS For Dakota Access Pipeline

This week, a federal judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers’ analysis for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota was insufficient, instructing the agency to revisit and release an updated environmental impact statement.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had requested the revocation of federal permits issued in 2016 under the National Environmental Policy Act, asserting that the Corps had violated the law and failed to address potential impacts from a pipeline oil spill.

Judge James E. Boasberg concluded that “the amount of unresolved scientific controversy that remains… suffices to show the necessity of an EIS.”

The U.S. Supreme Court stands in Washington, U.S

“Unrebutted expert critiques regarding leak-detection systems, operator safety records, adverse conditions, and worst-case discharge mean that the easement approval remains ‘highly controversial’ under NEPA. As the Court thus cannot find that the Corps has adequately discharged its duties under that statute, it will remand the matter to the agency to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement,” the judge wrote.

“The Corps must prepare an EIS, but what is the status of the easement — and, ultimately, the oil — in the meantime? As it has done before in this case, the Court will order the parties to brief the issue of whether the easement should be vacated during the remand,” he ordered, referring to the agency’s decision not to prepare an environment impact statement years earlier.

“The Corps must prepare an EIS, but what is the status of the easement — and, ultimately, the oil — in the meantime? As it has done before in this case, the Court will order the parties to brief the issue of whether the easement should be vacated during the remand,” he ordered, referring to the agency’s decision not to prepare an environment impact statement years earlier.

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In February 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that granting an easement for the crossing would have no significant environmental impact, exempting the agency from the need to prepare an EIS under NEPA requirements. The judge noted that a previous court analysis found that the decision not to issue an EIS largely complied with NEPA.


The recent court decision was  hailed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith.


The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), constructed by Energy Transfer Partners and operational since 2017, will continue functioning despite the recent court order for additional briefs on the easement issue.

This development does not impose an immediate halt on the pipeline’s operations.

Various anti-oil and gas groups, including the Natural Resource Defense Council, characterized the ruling as a “major development.” Extinction Rebellion, linking the battle to current COVID-19 news, expressed relief, stating it was “Some good news in these difficult times!”

In Pennsylvania, Energy Transfer Partners received a waiver from Governor Tom Wolf (D) to complete work on its Mariner East 2 pipeline, as the state categorized certain business activities as “life sustaining” or not. Pennsylvania has designated shale gas production and coal mining as “essential.”

In different states, such as California, “crude oil storage facilities, pipeline, and marine transport” have been classified as “essential” amid the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s important to note that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over a limited section of the overall pipeline project, approximately 37 miles out of 1,168 total miles, covering 202 jurisdictional water crossings.

The Corps aims to support energy development in an environmentally sound manner while ensuring economic development and minimizing impacts on the environment, as stated on its DAPL project website.

You may also enjoy reading: Environmental Groups Silent As Biden Touts Support For Fracking.

Nishan Dahal
Nishan Dahal
Nishan Dahal is a versatile writer and skilled editor with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. At Western Wire, Nishan leverages his expertise to craft compelling narratives and provide insightful analysis across a range of topics, from breaking news to entertainment updates. His commitment to journalistic excellence and accuracy makes him an invaluable member of the Western Wire team.

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