A federal judge is allowing four Native American tribes in the Dakotas to challenge the recent conclusion of federal officials that a Dakota Access oil pipeline spill wouldn’t unfairly affect them, further prolonging a court case that has lingered for more than two years.
The Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Yankton and Oglala Sioux sued in July 2016 and are still fighting even though the $3.8 billion pipeline began moving North Dakota oil to Illinois in 2017. They fear environmental harm should the pipeline spill into the Missouri River, which they rely on for drinking water, fishing and religion.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in June 2017 ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to do more study on the pipeline’s impacts on tribes. The agency last fall completed more than a year of additional work that it said backed up its earlier determination that the pipeline does not pose a higher risk of adverse impacts to minorities.