Friday, September 9, 2016

Obama Administration Orders ND Pipeline Construction to Stop

The Obama Administration said it would not authorize construction on a critical stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline, handing a significant victory to the Indian tribe fighting the project the same day the group lost a court battle.

The administration said construction would halt until it can do more environmental assessments.

The Department of Justice, the Army, and the Interior Department jointly announced that construction would pause on the pipeline near North Dakota's Lake Oahe, a major water source on the Missouri River for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The agencies will now decide whether they need to reconsider permitting decisions for the pipeline under the National Environmental Policy Act.

"The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution," the agencies said in a statement. "In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe."

The Lake Oahe crossing was a major concern for the tribe, which worries about the impact a leak in the pipeline would have on the lake.

A Federal judge Friday denied the tribe's request to halt construction on the 1,170-mile pipeline.

The administration's decision came shortly after that decision.

The tribe had sued over the Army Corps' approval of the project under a historic preservation law, but the Judge ruled that regulators had acted properly when issuing permitting for the project.

Despite the ruling, the agencies said, "important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain."

The Army Corps has permitted pipeline construction near Lake Oahe. But, as of last month, Federal Agencies had not yet issued the easements necessary for construction to begin there.

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