In 2017 President Donald Trump granted federal permits to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) for the commercial operation of the 1886-km Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. More than two years later, a federal court has ordered the Trump administration to conduct a full environmental review, saying "too many questions remain unanswered. To wit unrebutted expert critiques regarding leak-detection systems, operator safety records, adverse conditions, and worst-case discharge mean that the easement approval remains 'highly controversial' under the National Environmental Policy Act, (NEPA).
The court remanded the matter to the Army Corps of Engineers to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement and ordered the parties to “brief the issue of whether the easement should be vacated during the remand” and oil can continue flowing.“
The Standing Rock Sioux have been protesting the pipeline from the very beginning of construction deliberations in 2014. The protests occurred at several places because of concerns about the pipeline's impact on the environment and to sites sacred to American Indians. In North Dakota, next to and on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation nearly 15,000 people from around the world protested, staging a sit-in for months. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe had sued the Army Corps over its approval of the pipeline in North Dakota, arguing that oil spills could contaminate their water source, the Missouri River.
ETP was not immediately available for comment.