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Judge orders environmental review of Dakota oil pipeline
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 15, 2017

Court gives limited win to opponents of Dakota Access pipeline.
Washington (UPI) Jun 15, 2017 - While declaring a major victory in the fight over the Dakota Access pipeline, a court ruling finds the fight was met with only "some degree of success."

In one of his first acts in office, U.S. President Donald Trump expedited the process for the Dakota Access pipeline so that the consortium behind the project, Energy Transfer Partners, could put the line into service on June 1. The $3.8 billion project has the capacity to pump as much as a half million barrels of oil per day from the shale oil basins in North Dakota.

Tribal groups in the United States have drawn on grassroots support to block project development and a district court in the nation's capital found the Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately assess the impacts of a possible spill on "fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice."

"This is a major victory for the tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing," Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. "The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests."

Acting under the authority of former President Barack Obama, the Army Corps of Engineers said further review of Dakota Access was needed in order to assess tribal interests associated with the construction of the last few hundred feet of the pipeline.

Under Trump's order, the Army scrapped plans to finish its environmental review of the project.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, said many of the project delays were politically driven. After meeting with pipeline opponents in late January, he pledged to continue the dialogue "in the interest of reaching a safe and peaceful resolution."

The latest court challenge is the third effort against the pipeline.

"This volley meets with some degree of success," U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington said in his 91-page ruling.

The court found the Army "substantially complied" with national environmental rules in "many areas."

The pipeline remains in service. Energy Transfer Partners had no public comment on the court ruling and more hearings are scheduled to consider what happens next.

A federal judge ordered an environmental review of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline on Wednesday in a dramatic twist that opens the possibility that the project could be halted.

US District Judge James Boasberg in Washington said the US Army Corps of Engineers did not fully consider the effects of a possible oil spill on the fishing and hunting rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

The decision is a partial victory for the tribe, which led high-profile protests against the $3.8-billion, 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) oil pipeline.

Although the Corps of Engineers "substantially complied" with federal environmental laws, "it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial," Boasberg wrote in a 91-page decision.

"To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the court," he said.

The pipeline began pumping crude oil delivery from North Dakota to Illinois in May.

Although Boasberg did not suspend deliveries, overseen by pipeline operator Energy Transfer Partners, his order indicated that that could be considered at a later date.

The pipeline route under the Missouri River and man-made Lake Oahe in North Dakota was the subject of months of protests, as Native Americans and their supporters argued it ran the risk of potentially polluting the water.

Under former president Barack Obama, the Corps had called for further review and halted construction. But President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing officials to reconsider soon after taking office in January.

The Army Corps of Engineers cleared the way in February for the project to be finished, after which the tribe sued the Corps over its approval.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault hailed the latest decision.

"We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately," he said in a statement.

"The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests."

Judge Boasberg ordered both sides to appear before him next Wednesday to decide next legal steps.

Libya sees oil production gains ahead
Washington (UPI) Jun 14, 2017
An agreement with German energy company Wintershall means Libya has a better chance of meeting oil production goals, a national oil company said. The Libyan National Oil Co. said it signed an agreement with Wintershall that outlines a resumption of oil production from some of its license areas on an interim basis. NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said the agreement gives Wintershall enough ... read more

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