Judge Asks Army Corps to Revisit Environmental Analysis of Dakota Access Pipeline

Protesters march along the pipeline route during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in St. Anthony, N.D., on Monday. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

  • Staff | Reuters – Wed Jun 14, 2017

A federal judge on Wednesday said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not fully weigh the impacts of the Dakota Access pipeline and ordered it to reconsider sections of its environmental analysis.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington said that while the Army Corps substantially complied with the National Environmental Policy Act, it did not adequately consider the impacts of a possible oil spill on the fishing and hunting rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The tribe had sued the Army Corps over its approval of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

“To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court,” the judge said in a court order.

Operations of Energy Transfer Partners LP’s pipeline have not been suspended but will be considered later, the order said.

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)



U.S. Army Corps To Grant Final Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline: Court Filing

A North Dakota National Guard vehicle idles on the outskirts of the Dakota Access oil pipeline protest camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

A North Dakota National Guard vehicle idles on the outskirts of the Dakota Access oil pipeline protest camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Reuters | Feb 7, 2017 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will grant the final easement needed to finish the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a court filing Tuesday.

The line had been delayed for several months after protests from Native American tribes and climate activists. The $3.8 billion line, which is being built by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP.N), needed a final permit to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir that is part of the Missouri River.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is adjacent to the line’s route, has said it will fight the decision. The Army Corps had previously stated that it would undertake further environmental review of the project. The tribe was not immediately available for comment.

The 1,170-mile (1,885 km) line will bring crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale region to Patoka, Illinois, and from there connect to the Gulf of Mexico, where many U.S. refineries are located.

The tribe had fought the line for months, fearing contamination of their drinking water and damage to sacred sites on their land. This one-mile stretch under the river was the last uncompleted section of the line; the pipeline is expected to be operational late in the second quarter.

“The discord we have seen regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline doesn’t serve the tribe, the company, the Corps or any of the other stakeholders involved. Now, we all need to work together to ensure people and communities rebuild trust and peacefully resolve their differences,” said John Hoeven, Republican senator from North Dakota, in a statement.

Numerous activists who have been protesting in North Dakota have vowed to stay, although the primary protest camp is located on a flood plain on Army Corps land and is in the process of being cleared.

Their protests, along with those of climate activists, resulted in the Obama administration’s decision to delay a final permit that would allow construction under the Missouri River. It also ordered an environmental assessment, but that will not be conducted following Tuesday’s decision.

A memo dated Tuesday from Douglas Lamont, a senior official with the Army’s Civil Works department, said that he believes there is “no cause for completing any additional environmental analysis,” in part because of previous assessments by the Corps in 2016.

The Army informed the chairs and ranking members of the House Natural Resources and Senate Energy & Natural Resources committees of their intent in a letter on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump, days after being sworn in, issued an executive order directing the U.S. Army Corps to smooth the path to finishing the line. Tuesday’s filing was made in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.

Shares of Energy Transfer Partners were down before the news. The stock finished up 20 cents to $39.60 a share.

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; editing by Diane Craft and Cynthia Osterman)


U.S. Army Corps Moves To Close Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Camp Feb. 22

Law enforcement officers line up against protesters during the eviction of Dakota Access pipeline opponents from a camp on private property in southern North Dakota near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Feb. 1, 2017.

Law enforcement officers line up against protesters during the eviction of Dakota Access pipeline opponents from a camp on private property in southern North Dakota near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Feb. 1, 2017.

BIA pledges support in helping Standing Rock Tribe close protest camps

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given an evacuation order to those protesting at the Dakota Access Pipeline camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

The Army Corps is giving protesters until Feb. 22 to leave the Oceti Sakowin Camp for safety reasons, ABC News reported on Friday.

The Corps issued notices of the closure to protesters.

Record snowfall is expected in North Dakota, which could lead to record flooding in the area, according to an Army press release.

“Much of the land where the protest camps are currently located is directly in an area prone to flooding in years with heavy plains snow pack,” the Army said. “While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers routinely monitors river levels, ice jam flooding can very quickly force water into low-lying areas near the river with little time for reaction, placing anyone in the floodplain at risk for possible injury or death.”

Anticipated Flood Area From a January 11th, 2017 article in the Bismarck Tribune

Anticipated Flood Area. From a January 11th, 2017 article in the Bismarck Tribune

According to NBC NewsThe Corps said it would close the Oceti Sakowin Camp, which sits on approximately 50 acres of Corps land, due to the “high potential for flooding” in the low-lying area at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers.

The website of the largest protest camp urged protesters to leave.

“As we are caretakers of this land we are familiar with the oncoming flooding of the land of Mni S’os’e (Missouri River) we ask occupants of the Oc’eti Oyate to evacuate as soon as possible for safety reasons,” the Oceti Sakowin camp said in a statement.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said that if the protesters do not leave the camp, it will become a “humanitarian mission” to rescue them.

In addition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) pledged its support in helping the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe close the protest camps within its reservation boundaries.

The federal government announced Friday that it was dispatching BIA agents to the Standing Rock reservation.

The Corps said oil erosion and pollution — which it attributed to the “unauthorized placement of structures, vehicles, personal property, and fires” on the land over the course of more than six months — could result in contaminated runoff into both rivers.


“As stewards of the public lands and natural resources, we have a responsibility to the public to prevent injuries and loss of life,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Commander, Col. John Henderson. “We must also ensure our precious water resources are free from pollution due to human activities and respect for all who rely on this water for their livelihoods.”

A senior U.S. Defense official confirmed to NBC News that members of Congress were notified of the decision Friday.

The decision could be the final, decisive blow for a protest movement that began at the camp in early August with just a few dozen protesters — who call themselves water protectors — from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and blossomed into a movement captivated the nation with thousands of Native Americans and environmental activists flocking to the remote North Dakota plains to stop the $3.7 billion pipeline.

In late November, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a similar evacuation order, citing “severe winter conditions.” The order was followed up days later by a U.S. Army Corps deadline of Dec. 5.

The orders drew thousands more to the camp in solidarity, including groups of U.S. military veterans who vowed to act as “human shields” against possible clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement.

On Dec. 4, just hours before that deadline, the Corps turned down a permit for the project in what would be a short-lived victory for the tribe.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed a presidential memo asking for an expedited review of the Dakota Access Pipeline in an effort to get the controversial final portion of the 1,100-mile project moving again.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has promised to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for not conducting the environmental-impact review it said it would conduct.

On Tuesday, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp told NBC News that the Corps would grant an easement to Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company funding the project, to finish the pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe alleges the construction and operation of the pipeline would destroy sacred sites and threatens their drinking water.

Meanwhile, Morton County Sheriff’s arrested Seventy-six protesters on Wednesday after a new camp, with seven tepee frames representing the seven tribes, was erected on a hill Wednesday morning a quarter mile from the original Oceti Sakowin Camp.

American Indian activist and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe member Chase Iron Eyes was charged on Friday with inciting a riot and trespass.

The anti-pipeline protest camp that once occupied by as many as 10,000 people has thinned to fewer than 300 due to harsh winter weather and a plea by Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault for the camp to disband before the spring flooding season.

Tensions Rise Between Standing Rock Sioux and Pipeline Protesters

Dakota Access Pipeline Set To Begin Final Stretch, Mobilizing To Drill Under Missouri River

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and supporters confront bulldozers working on the Dakota Access pipeline in September. (AFP/Getty Images file photo)

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and supporters confront bulldozers working on the Dakota Access pipeline in September. (AFP/Getty Images file photo)

Dakota Access preparing for tunneling under Missouri River within weeks

By Red Power Media, Staff | Nov 09, 2016

Energy Transfer Partners, the operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline, is reportedly preparing to start construction on the final stretch of the $3.7 billion pipeline project.

Dakota Access released a statement last night, saying construction is now complete on both sides of the Lake Oahe crossing. The pipeline operator is moving equipment to prepare for the tunneling under Lake Oahe — a dammed section of the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

According to the release, Dakota Access expects to have fully mobilized all equipment needed to drill under the Missouri River within 2 weeks.

Federal regulators have not yet given the company the green light to start construction work. The pipeline operator is still awaiting an easement for land next to the lake, but the company said it “remains confident that it will receive the easement for these two strips of land adjacent to Lake Oahe in a time frame that will not result in any significant delay.”

Dakota Access also refuted a comment reportedly given by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the company had agreed to slow construction.

Energy Transfer told Reuters that the Army Corps statement was a “mistake” and the Corps “intends to rescind it.”

In September, following protests by Environmentalists and Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the Army Corps asked Energy Transfer to voluntarily halt all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe. But the company ignored the request and pressed on toward the Missouri River, arguing that they had received all the necessary permits and approvals from the Army Corps and did not intend to stop.

Watch Drone Footage of Dakota Access Pipeline Approaching Missouri River:


On October 31, President Barack Obama said the Army Corps is considering a reroute of the Dakota Access pipeline in this area and will let federal agency regulatory processes “play out” in the next several weeks. It remains unclear how the pipeline could be rerouted if construction is already occurring up to the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, has long argued that the Dakota Access pipeline threatens sacred lands, cultural artifacts and will pollute water supplies.

Today, Forum News Service reported, staff from the North Dakota Public Service Commission have proposed a $15,000 fine for Dakota Access for potential permit violations after the company failed to notify the commission about cultural artifacts discovered in the pipeline route in Morton County on Oct. 17.

Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route

Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route

Lake Oahe, the body of water at the heart of the protests, straddles the border between North Dakota and South Dakota.

This last phase of construction will join the two already-completed sections of the pipeline.

On Nov. 7, Unicorn Riot documented active pipeline construction that could be seen from the main Oceti Sakowin encampment.

The Dakota Access pipeline is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers renewed its call Wednesday, Nov. 9, for Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to voluntarily stop construction near Lake Oahe, citing concerns for people involved with continued protests north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

“We are concerned over recent statements from DAPL regarding our request to voluntarily stop work, which are intended to diffuse tensions surrounding their operations near Corps-managed federal land until we have a clear path forward,” said Col. John W. Henderson, commander of the Omaha district, in a statement released late Wednesday.

Representatives from the Army Corps also have met recently with tribal officials and agreed to work proactively to defuse tensions between demonstrators and law enforcement, Henderson said.

“We again ask DAPL to voluntarily cease operations in this area as their absence will help reduce these tensions,” Henderson said.

Dakota Access Pipeline Temporarily Halted By U.S. Appeals Court

Demonstrators from the Keep It In The Ground campaign hold up signs while protesting in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Demonstrators from the Keep It In The Ground campaign hold up signs while protesting in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg‎, Sept 16, 2016

Work on Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Dakota Access pipeline will be temporarily stopped while an appeals court considers an emergency request by a Native American group claiming the project could destroy or damage sacred land.

Completion of the project stalled because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said last week it won’t allow construction on federal land near Lake Oahe in North Dakota and South Dakota while it considers permits for that part project. The Corps announced the halt shortly after a federal judge rejected the tribe’s objections and let the project the go-ahead.

Friday’s order by a Washington federal appeals court stops construction within 20 miles of the lake while the court considers whether to order a longer delay.

The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile conduit is intended to convey light sweet crude from the Bakken formation in northwestern North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. Energy Transfer owns the project with Phillips 66 Co. and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP. A joint venture between Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Enbridge Energy Partners LP, announced in August, would also take a minority stake in the pipeline.

The Dakota Access dispute is cresting 10 months after President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada Corp.’s plans for the Keystone XL pipeline, which had faced opposition in Nebraska. ETP’s project skirts that state, proceeding diagonally across South Dakota and Iowa before reaching Illinois. The outcome of the Nov. 8 presidential election could alter the fate of both pipelines.

The Standing Rock Sioux sued the Army Corps in July, alleging the Dakota Access project threatened its “environmental and economic well-being and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious and cultural significance to the tribe.”

‘Undeniable Importance’

In denying the request to block the project, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said on Sept. 9. that Lake Oahe is of “undeniable importance” to the tribe. Still, he said, the tribe hadn’t shown the pipeline work would likely cause damage.

In papers filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 14, attorneys for the U.S. reiterated the Army Corps’s position that it wouldn’t authorize construction near Lake Oahe. While opposing the tribe’s request for a court-ordered halt, the government asked the consortium to voluntarily stop construction within 20 miles of the lake.

Lawyers for the consortium said the tribe had offered “no reason” to interrupt work on the pipeline, which they said is almost complete. They argued that “99.98 percent” of the pipeline’s route was through private land which doesn’t fall under federal jurisdiction.

The appeal case is Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 16-5259, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 16-cv-1534, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).