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The US Army Corps of Engineers has formally filed notice with a federal court in Washington that it wants to award a crucial permit needed for the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline to be completed.
In a filing in the DC district court on Tuesday afternoon, the Corps said that it planned to issue the permit, known as an “easement”, following an order given by President Donald Trump last month.
However, the project is still likely to face a legal battle before it is allowed to proceed.
The president’s order reversed a requirement imposed under the Obama administration that Dakota Access would need a fresh assessment of its environmental impact before being completed. Mr Trump ordered that the assessment done last year, giving the green light to construction, should stand.
Dakota Access is more than 92 per cent complete, but a critical section under Lake Oahe in North Dakota has yet to be built. That section is planned to pass close to the border of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, and the tribe has been protesting and fighting in court to stop construction.
The pipeline is intended to carry oil from the Bakken region of western North Dakota to refineries in the Midwest and across the US.