WASHINGTON — In the latest legal battle over the Dakota Access pipeline last Tuesday, a federal appeals court upheld most of a lower court ruling that said oil can continue to flow through the pipeline, but confirmed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did violate the National Environmental Policy Act in 2017 when it approved the pipeline easement without an environmental impact statement.
The court required the Army Corps of Engineers to complete an additional environmental review to assess the risks of a potential oil spill and examine ways to eliminate harm to the Standing Rock tribe.
The appeals court ruling comes against the backdrop of a new administration in Washington. Experts say new perspectives may impact the longevity of the pipeline project.
“I think the Biden administration very likely will take a completely different position as to whether they think oil should continue to be flowing through the pipeline during this interim period,” University of Minnesota law professor Alexandra Klass said. “That’s why I say there’s a much greater risk of an actual shutdown now.”
During his first day in office President Joe Biden put a stop to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and, while he hasn’t addressed Dakota Access specifically, he has made clear his plan for addressing climate change. He unveiled his environmental policy agenda last week, issuing a slew of aggressive executive orders.