Judge delays hearing on permit for Dakota Access pipeline

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday agreed to push back a hearing about whether the Dakota Access oil pipeline should be allowed to continue operating without a key permit while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts an environmental review on the project.

The Corps filed a motion Monday to postpone the Wednesday hearing in order to allow Biden administration officials more time to familiarize themselves with the case, including the 2016 lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in an attempt to stop construction. The pipeline began operating in 2017 after Donald Trump took office.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg reset the hearing for April 9. Neither the tribes nor Texas-based Energy Transfer, which owns the pipeline, objected to the delay.

Boasberg said he wants the Corps to explain how it “expects to proceed” without a federal permit granting easement for the $3.8 billion pipeline to cross beneath Lake Oahe, a reservoir along the Missouri River that is maintained by the Corps.

Boasberg in April 2020 ordered further environmental study after determining the Corps had not adequately considered how an oil spill under the Missouri River might affect Standing Rock’s fishing and hunting rights, or whether it might disproportionately affect the tribal community.