FARGO, N.D. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday asked a federal judge to delay a hearing on a temporary shutdown of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, citing the changeover in personnel with the new administration.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg asked the Corps to outline its plans after an appeals court two weeks ago backed Boasberg’s order for an extensive environmental review on the project and essentially confirmed that the pipeline was operating without a key permit. The hearing on the permit issue is scheduled for Wednesday.
Boasberg last summer revoked the easement that allows for the river crossing and ordered the pipeline shuttered until its environmental soundness was proven. However, the shutdown never happened because an appeals court ruled that Boasberg had not justified it.
The Corps said in its motion filed Monday that more time is needed to brief the new administration officials who will be required “to learn the background of and familiarize themselves with this lengthy and detailed litigation.” Biden has yet to address possible leadership changes in several government agencies.
Matthew Marinelli, attorney for the Corps, did not return an email message sent Monday night by The Associated Press.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which more than four years ago sued the Corps for granting permits that led Donald Trump to approve pipeline construction, and three other tribes serving as plaintiffs agree with the request for a 58-day delay — even though the tribes and other opponents have called for an immediate shutdown.
A letter sent Monday asking President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris to stop the flow of oil was signed by numerous activists and leaders representing environmental groups, Native Americans, politics, entertainment and one prominent sports figure, quarterback and NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
“The administration has to make a choice. Will it honour the treaties and the law, or will it allow the continued operation of an illegal and risky pipeline,” Jan Hasselman, the EarthJustice attorney representing Standing Rock and other tribes, said Monday night. “President Biden must reverse Trump’s illegal actions authorizing DAPL.”
Dave Kolpack, The Associated Press