A federal judge said Wednesday he won't keep the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from launching a full environmental study of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline's disputed crossing under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.
Energy Transfer Partners had requested U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to order the Corps to not begin an environmental impact statement on the Dakota Access pipeline Lake Oahe crossing until after Boasberg ruled on a separate issue regarding if ETP has the necessary permission to lay pipe under the lake.
ETP is currently blocked from drilling under the lake due to permissions issue but Judge Boasberg's ruling halts drilling while the Corps study is being conducted.
The environmental impact study could take up to two years. The notice published by the Corps on Wednesday regarding its intent to prepare an impact statement says public comments will be accepted until February 20 on potential issues, concerns and reasonable alternatives that should be considered in the study. The Federal Register notice is available here.
The final stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline construction has been opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux and its supporters who say the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites. ETP maintains the pipeline will be safe.
An environmental assessment conducted last year determined the crossing would not have a significant impact on the environment. However, Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said in December that a broader environmental impact statement was warranted.
In related news, the North Dakota National Guard is withdrawing the two unloaded missile launchers it had stationed near the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site in order to “observe” peaceful protestors, as reported by The Daily Beast on Tuesday.