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Judge gives U.S. three weeks to detail Dakota Access pipeline options

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) to detail options by the end of the month for resolving the loss of a permit that allows the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline to operate on U.S. land.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last month voided an easement that allowed a portion of the pipeline to cross federal property in South Dakota, citing violations of environmental requirements.

ACE is exploring four options, including some that would not require it to shut, said Ben Schifman, an attorney representing the Army Corps.

The Corps proposed taking 60 days to determine how it would move ahead, but U.S. Judge James Boasberg asked to be briefed by Aug. 31.

Dakota Access, controlled by Energy Transfer LP, is appealing the decision vacating the permit, which could lead to the 570,000 barrel-per-day pipeline being shut and drained. An appeals court last week allowed the pipeline, the biggest out of North Dakota’s Bakken shale region, to continue to flow for the time being.

The pipeline could still be forced to shut by the Army Corps or the U.S. District Court.

EarthJustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who is representing the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, also asked the Corps to expedite the process in determining the next steps it would take on the pipeline.

The pipeline, which runs under a critical drinking water source for the Sioux tribe in South Dakota, drew months long protests by environmental activists and Native American tribes before coming into service in mid-2017.

Dakota Access says it could lose billions of dollars if the line was idled for an extended period.

Reporting by Laila Kearney; editing by Jane Wardell

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