North Dakota OKs expanding Dakota Access Pipeline, setting up legal fight with Standing Rock

North Dakota regulators on Wednesday approved expanding the Dakota Access pipeline, despite concerns from environmentalists and Native Americans who said the plan makes an oil spill more likely.

The 3-0 vote by the Public Service Commission clears one hurdle to double the pipeline’s capacity to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day, but the proposal needs additional permits and may face legal challenges.

The pipeline crosses beneath the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, moving North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. Tribe members, environmentalists and their supporters argued that the pipeline damages sacred sites and could pollute the water source, but the federal government approved the project three years ago.