BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- A federal judge's decision on whether a year's worth of additional study of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline adequately addresses American Indian concerns appears weeks if not months away.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in late August completed additional study ordered by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in June 2017, saying the work substantiated its earlier determination that the pipeline poses no significant environmental threats to tribes.
However, the Corps didn't immediately release its lengthy analysis so that it could be reviewed by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for sensitive information that shouldn't be publicly disclosed. That has been completed, and tribes and Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners now have the document.
Boasberg on Tuesday gave the parties until Nov. 1 to submit proposals for how to proceed in the case that's lingered since the Standing Rock Sioux sued in July 2016 over the pipeline built to move North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois.
The pipeline has been operating since June 2017, but Standing Rock and three other Sioux tribes that later joined the lawsuit hope to get it shut down.
Standing Rock attorney Jan Hasselman expects Boasberg to give the tribes an opportunity to challenge the Corps analysis before making a final decision on whether it's sufficient. Any tribal challenges could extend the case for months, he said.