Federal Judge orders Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) shut down!

  • Published on July 7th, 2020

A federal judge ruled today that owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, must halt operations while the government conducts a full-fledged analysis examining the risk DAPL poses to the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes.

Standing Rock DAPL Stevana Salazar (left) of the Kickapoo Tribe of Texas rides with Arlo Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota from Allen, S.D., in the Sacred Stone Camp, Aug. 26, 2016. TERRAY SYLVESTER / VWPICS VIA REDUX
Stevana Salazar (left) of the Kickapoo Tribe of Texas rides with Arlo Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota from Allen, S.D., in the Sacred Stone Camp, Aug. 26, 2016. Terray Sylvester / VWPICS via Reedux

By Dan Bacher

This order by James E. Boasberg, United States District Judge, is part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes.

In his ruling, Judge Boasberg stated,

“Lake Oahe is a large reservoir lying behind a dam on the Missouri River and stretching between North and South Dakota. Fearing severe environmental consequences, American Indian Tribes on nearby reservations have sought for several years to invalidate federal permits allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to carry oil under the lake. Today they finally achieve that goal — at least for the time being.”

According to a statement from Earthjustice and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, “The court decision delivered a hard-fought victory to the Tribe, which has been engaged in a high-profile struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2016. The ruling ordering a shutdown of DAPL marks the final word of a March 25 decision by the same judge. That ruling found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and glossed over the devastating consequences of a potential oil spill when it affirmed its 2016 decision to permit the pipeline.”

“The court ordered the Corps to re-examine the risks of the pipeline and prepare a full environmental impact statement, but left open the question as to whether pipeline operations would be halted as a legal remedy pending further briefing.  After carefully analyzing the seriousness of the government’s legal violations, and the potential impacts on the Tribe and third parties, today’s decision concluded that shutting down the pipeline was necessary,” they said.

The Tribe and Earthjustice said the shutdown will remain in place pending completion of a full environmental review, which normally takes several years, and the issuance of new permits. It may be up to a new administration to make final permitting decisions.

“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” said Chairman Mike Faith of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”

“It took four long years, but today justice has been served at Standing Rock,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the Tribe. “If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on.”

The Indigenous Environmental Network issued the following statement celebrating the court order:

“We are celebrating this order as it vindicates the many prayers, actions, and legal arguments of Oceti Sakowin tribal nations and communities! The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes have shown the world that treaty rights and environmental justice are not token concepts without merit, but rather tangible arguments that inherently protect the sacredness of mother earth. We will continue to fight until DAPL is stopped completely “

In a Facebook post, the Network also described this as “a tremendous court decision!”

“Until the Army Corps of Engineers can complete an Environmental Impact Statement, the Dakota Access Pipeline must shut down completely! We send strong love and solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin nations in this fight to defend the sacred!”

Joye Braun, the first camper at Sacred Stone Camp, stated, “This is a big win for the Oceti Sakowin or Great Sioux Nation and all our ally tribes and friends who came to stand with us to protect water and the future of our children. We said from the beginning that the crossing of the Missouri river was illegal and that an EIS was necessary. I’m glad the judge saw the inherent dangers of keeping the oil flowing on DAPL while this study moves forward.  That in of itself is vindication for all the trials we went through. This is a win for the grassroots people of the Oceti Sakowin and I couldn’t be happier.”

About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.