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Federal appeals court temporarily permits Dakota Access Pipeline operation
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Federal appeals court temporarily permits Dakota Access Pipeline operation

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday that the Dakota Access Pipeline can continue operating amid legal proceedings.

The order rejects a lower court’s decision last week to shut down the pipeline as owner Energy Transfer LP faces legal challenges from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Tuesday’s decision emphasizes that the administrative stay “should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits.”

The recent orders stem from a longstanding legal battle over the construction of the pipeline. Architects of the project planned for the pipeline to run in close proximity to the Sioux Standing Rock reservation, which was met with national media attention and protests in 2016. In March a federal judge ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to examine and review the environmental impacts of the project.

Tribal members and environmentalists contend that the pipeline’s construction under Lake Oahe will lead to health problems from drinking water contamination. Energy Transfer retorts that the pipeline is “the safest, most environmentally responsible method for moving North Dakota’s crude oil to refining markets around the country.”

The court further ordered parties to submit responses to the emergency stay by Monday, July 20, and replies to those responses by Thursday, July 23.