In a stunning turn of events in favor of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a federal judge ruled Wednesday certain aspects of the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline — which now crosses under the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir, source of the Tribe’s drinking water — violated the law.
“This decision marks an important turning point. Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been disregarded by the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump administration — prompting a well-deserved global outcry,” stated Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice attorney and lead counsel in the lawsuit.
Left undetermined in the ruling is whether pipeline operations must be shut down — but the judge requested additional briefing and a status conference is slated to take place next week.
Earthjustice filed a lawsuit February 14 — after final approval swiftly came with the entrée of President Trump and his administration — contending the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit allowing Energy Transfer Partners to construct Dakota Access near tribal boundaries and through Native American ancestral lands in violation of several environmental laws.
Earthjustice reports, Federal Judge James Boasberg wrote in the decision, “the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.”
Indeed, the Standing Rock Sioux began battling construction of the disputatious 1,172-mile, $3.8 billion pipeline as soon as plans were publicized. At the center of controversy — beyond, that is, the centuries-long dispute over Indigenous ancestral land rights — sits the pipeline’s path undercutting the Missouri River, which the Tribe and supporters assert will veritably guarantee the contamination of drinking water with Bakken crude oil.
“The idea that a 30-inch crude-oil pipeline under one of the most economically and culturally important waterways in the nation isn’t significant enough to warrant an environmental review is absurd,” the law group noted, explaining the lack of a thorough, transparent, and public environmental impact statement provided one of the primary impetuses for filing suit.
Further, “the history of the U.S. government’s broken promises to the Sioux people is long and tragic. No one disputes that the Tribe has important Treaty rights that guarantee the integrity of its reservation. This means that the federal government and its agencies cannot take any federal action that harms the Standing Rock reservation or the water in the Missouri River on which the people of Standing Rock depend.”
Dakota Access, also called the Bakken Pipeline, spawned arguably the largest environmental movement in modern times — one weighted heavily with historic exploitation and genocide of Indigenous peoples on the North American continent and around the globe.
Indeed, due to the general lack of coverage pertaining to Native American history and atrocities committed by the U.S. government, that DAPL traverses land considered sacred, culturally and spiritually, ignited furious backlash against the project and engendered the support of thousands of campers near Cannon Ball, North Dakota for months — including through winter, despite brutally arctic conditions.
Once the Trump Administration took power in January, efforts to clear pipeline opposition water protectors from several city-like encampments, USACE wasted no time in approving completion of Dakota Access — despite lawsuits still languishing in court.
Water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters worldwide celebrated Wednesday’s significant, if limited, victory, which came within weeks of the first oil traveling through the new pipeline.
“This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” stated Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II.
Hasselman added, “The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities.”
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
We encourage you to share and republish our reports, analyses, breaking news and videos (Click for details).
Contributed by Claire Bernish of The Daily Sheeple.