Overnight Energy: Another setback for Dakota Access opponents

Overnight Energy: Another setback for Dakota Access opponents
© Getty Images

JUDGE DENIES TRIBE'S CLAIM AGAINST PIPELINE: Opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline were dealt another legal defeat on Tuesday.

A federal judge denied the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe's request to halt construction on the project, which they say violates their religious freedom.

The tribe contends the presence of an oil pipeline under Lake Oahe would desecrate the lake's water, which is used in sacred sacraments.

But U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg rejected that argument, saying there is a higher legal bar to prove an infringement on someone's rights to practice their religion.


Regardless, the tribes suing against the Dakota Access project are powering forward, saying they have formally asked Boasberg to rule on the underlying legality of the project.

"If the pipeline comes into operation, the [judge] has already indicated that if he finds that the permits were issued contrary to law, he can order the pipeline turned back off, and that's what we will be asking for," Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lawyer Jan Hasselman said Tuesday.

Dakota Access says it hopes to begin running oil through its 1,172-mile pipeline next week.

Read more here.

SENATE VOTES TO QUASH ANOTHER OBAMA GREEN RULE: Senators voted to end a Bureau of Land Management planning rule on Tuesday, sending another successful Congressional Review Act resolution to President Trump for his signature.

The Senate voted 51-48 to undo the BLM "Planning 2.0" rule, which conservatives say gives the federal government too much influence over public land decisions and marginalizes state and local input.

"Instead of greater transparency, BLM delivered a new process that ensures less transparency," Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiAnti-Trump Republicans endorsing vulnerable Democrats to prevent GOP takeover GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE (R-Alaska) said during floor debate Tuesday.

"Instead of expanding public participation, Western states are looking at fewer and weaker opportunities to influence the management of local lands. Planning 2.0 also turns the relationship between the federal, the state and the local governments on its head."

Lawmakers have sent Trump four CRA resolutions undoing Obama administration rules, and they kicked off the process for a fifth resolution on Tuesday night.

Two of the previous CRA challenges were environment-related: one for a rule on coal mining pollution, and another calling for more financial disclosures from drilling and mining firms.

Read more here.  

DEMS ASK TRUMP TO KEEP CAR EMISSIONS STANDARDS: Senate Democrats are pushing the Trump administration to abandon its reported plan to weaken former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAbrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda  The root of Joe Biden's troubles MORE's greenhouse gas emissions rule for cars.

"These automobile emissions standards are economically feasible and technologically achievable for the auto industry," the 12 senators wrote to Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, citing the EPA's decision at the end of the Obama administration to maintain the rules for the 2022 to 2025 model years, despite auto industry pleas.

"They will enhance our national security by reducing our consumption of foreign oil. They will benefit consumers, saving them billions of dollars at the pump and reduce our carbon pollution. It is critical that they remain in place."

The EPA and Department of Transportation are reportedly planning to kick off the process as soon as this week of formally reconsidering the greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency rules.

It comes amid auto industry complaints that the rules are too expensive and that the Obama administration didn't properly conduct its midterm review of the standards.

Read more here.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The House Appropriations Committee's energy and water panel will hold a meeting for members to discuss their priorities for the spending bill.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY II: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on nuclear energy.


There was a tornado in Minnesota -- in March -- on Monday, the state's earliest tornado on record, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Poachers broke into a zoo in France this week, killing a white rhino and sawing off one of its horns, NPR News reports.

Two news outlets won Scripps Howard Awards Tuesday for environment-related coverage: The Oregonian for its series on lead contamination at National Guard armories and Michigan Radio for its coverage of the Flint water crisis.


Check out Tuesday's stories...

-Senate passes bill ending Obama-era land rule
-Oil exec: Trump should keep US in Paris climate pact
-Judge denies tribe's request to block Dakota Access pipeline
-Dems push Trump to keep Obama-era car emissions standards
-First EPA chief warns against agency overhaul

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