Draft Environmental Study on Dakota Access Pipeline Expected in Fall

(Reuters) — A draft environmental impact statement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline is now expected to be released in fall, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Thursday.

The review was initially expected to be completed last year and earlier was pushed back to spring of this year.

A U.S. court last year ordered the federal government to undertake a more intensive environmental study of the pipeline's route under a lake that straddles the border of North Dakota and South Dakota.

Pipeline operator Energy Transfer did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

The pipeline, known as DAPL, has continued to operate while the review is being carried out. It is the biggest oil pipeline from the Bakken shale oil basin and can transport up to 750,000 barrels of oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois.

It has been the subject of a lengthy court battle between Native American tribes and Dallas-based Energy Transfer.

The tribes have opposed the pipeline, saying they draw water from the lake for various purposes, including drinking, and consider the waters of the Missouri River to be sacred. Their lawyers have said the tribes are worried about a potential oil spill.

"It's a real threat that DAPL could be shut down or shut down to temporarily move it," Lynn Helms, director at North Dakota regulator, Department of Mineral Resources, said last week.

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