Federal Judge Orders Halt to Pipeline Operation
Every now and again, the good people win.
On Monday, a federal judge’s order to halt operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) reinforced that belief.
The good people in this case are the members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North and South Dakota, other tribes that joined them in their lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps), and people from around the world who supported them as they fought for their sovereignty and human rights.
By now anyone who has been paying attention to the water protectors’ fight against the pipeline has heard about the ruling, so I won’t dwell too long on the details.
As a brief summary, the Standing Rock Sioux people, their allies and supporters have been fighting for years to keep Energy Transfer Partners from putting an oil pipeline under the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. It was a route which would mean polluted water for the Dakota and Lakota* people living there if ever there was a leak.
In 2016, the standoff between water protectors and the state turned ugly, with federal, state and local law enforcement, along with private security firms, “suppressing the NoDAPL movement.” Many water protectors were arrested and spent time in jail.
On March 25, 2020, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled 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.”
He ordered a new, more thorough environmental impact review, which by law should have been done before construction ever commenced. However, the question remained as to whether Energy Transfer Partners could continue to operate the pipeline in the interim.
The oil company and its allies in North Dakota state government and the U.S. Congress have been arguing that shutting down the pipeline would cause too much damage to the state’s economy during the 13 months it will take to complete the environmental impact statement.
On Monday (July 6, 2020), Boasberg ruled that Energy Transfer Partners must shut the Dakota Access Pipeline down until the Corps completes the required assessment. According to National Public Radio, Boasberg wrote in his decision that, “‘the seriousness of the Corps’ deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow’ during that time.”
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is delighted, of course.
“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 said in a piece by Earth Justice, whose attorneys have been representing the tribe. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
Clearly, for some it’s all about the money.
IV Words says people first.
And for the time being at least, the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are on top.
That could change, but I believe in celebrating incremental victories.
Furthermore, my sincere hope is the Dakota Access Pipeline remains dry forever. It goes with my hope that North Dakota’s leaders will realize fossil fuels are a limited solution to the state’s economic woes, and that, rather than supporting coal and oil companies, they need to begin investing more in renewable energy development. Doing so would be an investment in a desirable future for all people.
That’s highly unlikely, but I’ll keep hoping for it anyway. After all, every now and again, the good people win.
CONGRATULATIONS Standing Rock Sioux! #NoDAPL!!!
* From the Standing Rock website:
“The people of Standing Rock, often called Sioux, are members of the Dakota and Lakota nations. ‘Dakota’ and ‘Lakota’ mean ‘friends’ or ‘allies.’ The people of these nations are often called ‘Sioux’, a term that dates back to the seventeenth century when the people were living in the Great Lakes area. The Ojibwa called the Lakota and Dakota ‘Nadouwesou’ meaning ‘adders.’ This term, shortened and corrupted by French traders, resulted in retention of the last syllable as ‘Sioux.’ There are various Sioux divisions and each has important cultural, linguistic, territorial and political distinctions.”
Featured photo by Arin Dambanerjee via Shutterstock.
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