Dakota Access lawsuit dismissed; future challenges possible


BISMARCK, N.D. — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe challenging the operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

With his ruling, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg outlined a path for a future legal challenge to an ongoing environmental review, should the tribe seek to make one.

Boasberg indicated if the tribe plans to challenge the outcome of the study it must do so in the form of a new lawsuit that would be assigned to his court. The judge also left open the possibility of reopening the case should any previous orders he made concerning the pipeline be violated.

Boasberg in May answered lingering issues in the litigation, ruling the pipeline could keep operating. Standing Rock had asked him to issue an injunction forcing the line to stop pumping oil, but he concluded the tribe had failed to demonstrate a “likelihood of irreparable injury” from the line’s continued operation.

The Bismarck Tribune reports the ruling eased the anxiety of many Bakken producers who send their oil to market through the 1,200-mile line. State officials also feared a decline in oil tax revenue and jobs if the pipeline were forced to shut down during the environmental review.

Boasberg for five years has presided over the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. His rulings over the years gave victories and defeats to both Standing Rock and pipeline supporters, including operator Energy Transfer and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency tasked with permitting the line’s Missouri River crossing.

The $3.8 billion pipeline began operating in 2017, after being the subject of months of protests during its construction.

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