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Judge’s decision on Dakota Access study likely months away

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 responded to 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 finding that the pipeline poses no significant environmental threats to tribes.

Boasberg on Tuesday gave the parties until Nov. 1 to submit proposals suggesting ways to proceed with the case, which has lingered since the Standing Rock Sioux sued in July 2016 over the pipeline, which was 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.

Jan Hasselman, a lawyer representing the Standing Rock, 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.

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