Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have, for many years, been voicing concerns about the likelihood of environmental hazards from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). And, once more, the DAPL has made headlines, thanks to a federal judge’s recent decision to strike down permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The USACE has thus been ordered to conduct a more comprehensive analysis via an environmental impact statement (EIS) to ascertain any violations with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The controversy stems from worries about leaks that could drastically affect the environment, especially where the DAPL runs under the Missouri River. Any oil spills in the Missouri River would compromise the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation downstream, by contaminating their lands and drinking water.
“The many commenters in this case pointed to serious gaps in crucial parts of the Corps’ analysis – to name a few, that the pipeline’s leak-detection system was unlikely to work, that it was not designed to catch slow spills, that the operator’s serious history of incidents had not been taken into account, that that the worst-case scenario used by the Corps was potentially only a fraction of what a realistic figure would be – and the Corps was not able to fill any of [the gaps in the analysis],” said U.S. District Judge James Boasberg.
The USACE’s lawyer from the Department of Justice has declined to comment. Instead, the Grow America’s Infrastructure Now (GAIN) Coalition made their position known about the judge’s decision. GAIN has been described by the Business & Industry Connection (BIC) magazine as “a diverse coalition of businesses, trade associations and labor groups that share a vested interest in creating jobs and strengthening the U.S. economy through infrastructure development.”
As GAIN Coalition spokesperson Craig Stevens told NPR news, “Not only does this decision risk one company’s investment, but it could also jeopardize our nation’s economic and energy security moving forward.”
Meanwhile, Native American tribes and green lobbyist groups are pleased with the ruling, citing it as a legal victory for the environment.
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