‘Monumental Victory’: Tribes and climate activists celebrate court-ordered shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline

“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.”

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer

Monday, July 6, 9:20-AM MST

Thousands gathered at the San Francisco Civic Center in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline on Nov. 15, 2016. (Photo: Peg Hunter/Flickr/cc)
Thousands gathered at the San Francisco Civic Center in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline on Nov. 15, 2016. (Photo: Peg Hunter/Flickr/cc)

A U.S. district court on Monday delivered a major win to local Indigenous organizers and climate activists—and a significant blow to the fossil fuel industry and the Trump administration—by ordering the Dakota Access Pipeline to be shut down and emptied of oil by Aug. 5 while federal regulators conduct an environmental review of the project.

“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.” — Mike Faith, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
DAPL, as the Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) pipeline is widely known, transports crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale basin to a terminal in Illinois. The pipeline has gained international notoriety in recent years due to protests—particularly on and around the Standing Rock Indian Reservation—by environmentalists and Native Americans who live along the route.

The Monday decision by D.C.-based District Judge James E. Boasberg comes after four years of litigation brought by the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, and others against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for allowing ETP to construct and operate the pipeline beneath Lake Oahe, a dammed portion of the Missouri River near the reservation.

The Obama administration denied permits for DAPL to cross the river in December 2016, but President Donald Trump signed an executive order advancing the project shortly after taking office in January 2017. The pipeline was completed and operating within months.

Boasberg’s move to shut down DAPL was welcomed by critics of the pipeline.

“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,” chairman Mike Faith of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a statement. “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,” added 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.”

Boasberg’s order Monday followed his finding in March that the Corps had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when approving federal permits for DAPL. The Corps is expected to finish it full court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the pipeline by mid-2021.

The decision to temporarily shut down DAPL came just a day after two energy companies cancelled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) that would have transported fracked gas through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina—a move that activists called a “historic victory for clean water, the climate, public health, and our communities.”

“These monumental defeats for the fossil fuel industry are a clear sign that bold community opposition, strategic legal challenges and state-level clean energy legislation are all working together to thwart the Trump administration’s pro-polluter agenda,” Food & Water Action policy director Mitch Jones said in a statement Monday, referencing both the DAPL decision and the ACP cancellation.

“The campaign to stop the Dakota Access pipeline, led by Indigenous groups whose water would have been directly impacted by that filthy project, inspired and emboldened climate activists across the country,” Jones continued. “The Trump White House can boast and bluster all it wants, and corporate behemoths can scheme to take advantage of the administration’s fondness for fossil fuels, but they are no match for determined grassroots opposition movements fighting for environmental justice and an end to the degradation of our air, water and climate.”

“Fossil fuels are dying,” he added, “and there is little that Donald Trump can do to save them.”


This article published by Common Dreams on July 6, 2020, here…

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