The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. recently ruled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) despite having already produced a 1,261 page Environmental Assessment (EA) in July 2016, reporting a “Finding of No Significant Impact” or “FONSI.”

The Army Corps’ environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) consider many different factors in the natural, economic, and social environments surrounding a proposed project. An EA, which takes about a year to complete, assesses the need for the project, alternatives, and the environmental impacts of the proposed actions. If a project has a “Finding of No Significant Impact, an EIS is not required, which was the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline. An EIS is only completed if it is determined that the impact is potentially significant. EISs have an average completion time of 4.5 years, and require review of EA findings and all possible outcomes for every potential scenario.

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