Nearly a week after the Army Corps. of Engineers announced that they will not issue permits needed for the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline to continue, the company building the pipeline was handed another minor setback from a federal judge.
The company, Energy Transfer Partners, filed a case in federal court on Monday asking for the Army Corps. of Engineers' decision to be overturned because they argue the agency had already issued permits and the company had done its due diligence in terms of impact assessments and community consultation.
An attorney for the company said the company is sustaining $20 million per week in losses while the $3.8 billion project is placed on hold. The company had asked for an expedited decision from the court citing their losses, but Federal District Judge James Boasberg said he won't issue a ruling this year.
The government will have until January 6 to file their arguments against ETP's request that they should be allowed to continue construction of their pipeline under Lake Oahe, a reservoir off the Missouri River.
Boasberg said he will hear the case again in February, USA Today reports, which means that by the time the case resumes the Donald Trump administration will be in the White House. If the incoming administration supports the project–like President-elect Trump has indicated–and pushes the project through, the court case may no longer be relevant by February.
"None of us have any idea of whether the incoming administration will make this matter moot,'' Boasberg said today.
Native American activists have been protesting the development near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation for several months. The Army Corps. of Engineers' decision on Sunday acknowledged their concerns that the pipeline's proximity to their land could contaminate their water supply and that it crosses sacred sites–the federal agency agreed to consider other routes for the project, and will require a more intensive environmental impact statement on any alternate route.