WASHINGTON — In a significant victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a federal judge on Wednesday ordered a sweeping new environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The pipeline, which runs from North Dakota to Illinois, has been carrying oil for nearly three years and has been contested by environmental groups and Native American tribes who live near it. President Trump sought to keep the project alive.
The ruling by United States District Judge James E. Boasberg found that the pipeline’s “effects on the quality of the human environment are likely to be highly controversial” and that the federal government had not done an adequate job of studying the risks of a major spill or whether the pipeline’s leak detection system was adequate.
He ordered the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which granted the permits for the pipeline, to conduct a more extensive environmental impact statement.
“This is a really major step in the history of this effort,” said Jan Hasselman, an attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice who represents the Standing Rock tribe in the lawsuit.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation is less than a mile from the pipeline, have said they worry a spill under the nearby Missouri River would pollute water they rely on for fishing, drinking and religious ceremonies. The tribe in 2016 sued in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., to stop construction and won an early victory in the Obama administration when the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would seek alternative routes.
Four days after President Trump took office in 2017, he signed