Standing Rock calls pipeline ruling a victory – but will DAPL be shut off?

A judge says a thorough oil spill analysis for the Dakota Access Pipeline wasn't done. So what happens next?
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A federal judge says the possible impacts of an oil spill along the Dakota Access Pipeline weren't fully explored during planning stages – and now there's a chance it will stop operating so more environmental analysis can be done.

This comes from a (very long) U.S. District Court ruling on Wednesday. It's a response to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's latest legal challenge to the controversial pipeline. The tribe argues the Army Corps of Engineers didn't fully consider the environmental impacts of the pipeline before giving permits that allowed DAPL to be completed.

In the opinion, Judge James Boasberg sides (at least in part) with the tribe.

Boasberg writes that the Army Corps followed through on the National Environmental Policy Act "in many areas" when allowing the pipeline to be constructed beneath the federally managed Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

But they whiffed in one key area: A possible oil spill.

The Army Corps didn't "adequately consider" what could happen to fishing rights, hunting rights, or other aspects of the environment if there were to be an oil spill, the opinion says.

What happens next?

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman is calling this a "victory," and blaming the Trump administration for "hastily" ignoring environmental considerations.

"We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately," Chairman Dave Archambault II said.

The Associated Press describes the court ruling as a "lifeline."

But nothing's changing, at least for now.

The Army Corps will need to redo those parts of the environmental analysis.

But whether the Dakota Access Pipeline will need to stop operations while that happens hasn't been decided yet. (It just started moving oil on June 1.) Judge Boasberg called that a "separate question," and said it'll be looked at in the future. The Washington Post says hearings for that will start June 21.

Background on the pipeline

The $3.8 billion pipeline carries oil from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, before eventually reaching distribution centers in Illinois.

Energy Transfer Partners has said the pipeline was built in one of the safest, most technologically advanced ways possible.

The company was given the go-ahead by the Trump administration to complete the pipeline earlier this year, reversing an earlier decision from the Obama administration.

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