Bettina Billups, right, helps Brentley Lashum, 2, touch Superman's hand Wednesday during superhero window-washing day at Children's of Alabama in Birmingham, part of the hospital’s Superhero Month celebrations. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

Judge rules Dakota pipeline may operate

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Dakota Access oil pipeline can continue operating while a study is completed to assess its environmental impact on an American Indian tribe.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s decision will come as a blow to the Standing Rock Sioux, who have argued that an oil spill from the pipeline under Lake Oahe — from which the tribe draws its water — could have a detrimental effect on the tribal community.

Boasberg found that it is likely the Army Corps of Engineers will be able to justify previous decisions made while permitting the pipeline. Boasberg also acknowledged that shutting down the pipeline would disrupt the energy industry.

The $3.8 billion pipeline built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners has been operating since June 1, moving oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois. From there it can be shipped to the Gulf Coast and potentially lucrative markets abroad. It has the capacity to move half of the oil produced daily in North Dakota, the nation’s second-leading producer behind Texas.

Boasberg ruled on June 14 that the Corps largely complied with environmental law, but he ordered the agency to reconsider certain areas of its analysis and took arguments on whether to shut down the 1,200-mile pipeline while the work is done.

Boasberg in June said the Corps didn’t adequately consider how an oil spill under the Lake Oahe reservoir on the Missouri River in the Dakotas might affect the Standing Rock Sioux. The tribe is among four that have challenged the pipeline in court over environmental fears that ETP says are unfounded.

— Associated Press


Ten arrested on hazing charges in Louisiana

Ten people were arrested Wednesday on hazing charges in the death of a Louisiana State University fraternity pledge whose blood alcohol content level was more than six times the legal limit for driving, officials said.

One of the 10 suspects — Matthew Alexander Naquin, 19, of Boerne, Tex. — also faces a negligent homicide charge in the death last month of 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver, a freshman from Roswell, Ga., LSU said.

An autopsy showed Gruver’s blood alcohol content level at the time of his death was 0.495, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark said Wednesday. The legal blood-alcohol limit for driving in Louisiana is 0.08 percent.

Eight of the suspects are LSU students and were active members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, according to university spokesman Ernie Ballard. He said all 10 turned themselves in to LSU police Wednesday. The hazing charges against all 10 suspects, whose ages range from 18 to 21, are misdemeanors.

LSU President F. King Alexander said the arrests "underscore that the ramifications of hazing can be devastating."

Gruver died at a Baton Rouge hospital on Sept. 14 after fraternity members found him lying on a couch at the fraternity house, police said.

Witnesses told police that the fraternity's pledges were forced to drink to excess on the night before Gruver's death during a game or initiation ritual called "Bible Study" that required pledges to drink if they incorrectly answered questions about the fraternity.

— Associated Press

Boy, 4, accidentally shoots grandfather: A 4-year-old North Carolina boy accidentally shot and killed his grandfather with a gun he found on the tailgate of the man's truck on Sunday, police said. Pasquotank County Sheriff Randy Cartwright said Danny Patrick, 57, of Elizabeth City, had been shooting a rifle with his grandson and at some point, the boy fired a shot, hitting the man in the face. The boy then walked to a nearby home, where the resident said the boy told her his grandfather was dead.

— Associated Press