Youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe lead a ReZpect Our Water rally outside of the White House in Washington, D.C., on August 6, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Big #NoDAPL News: Federal judge orders shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline

This is a developing story.

A federal judge has finally invalidated permits for Dakota Access Pipeline following four years of complaints from Indian Country.

On July 6, 2020, Judge James E. Boasberg ordered a shutdown of the controversial oil project that runs through Sioux Nation treaty territory.

From the ruling in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: "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."

"Although mindful of the disruption such a shutdown will cause, the court now concludes that the answer is yes," the 24-page decision reads.

The ruling is the latest to fault the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for approving the $3.8 pipeline without considering all of the impact on treaty rights and environmental justice.

"[G]iven the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease," Boasberg said of the agency's violations of the National Environmental Protection Act, or NEPA.

"The court will nonetheless require the oil to stop flowing and the pipeline to be emptied within 30 days from the date of this opinion and accompanying order," the ruling continues. The 30-day deadline is August 5, 2020.

"This time period was proposed by the tribes and should provide sufficient time for the pipeline to be shut down in a safe and efficient manner, which is undoubtedly in everyone’s interest," Boasberg added.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the Army Corps in the summer of 2016. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was allowed to join the lawsuit around the same time.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe subsequently filed their own separate lawsuits. Their cases were consolidated with Standing Rock and Cheyenne River.

Relevant Documents
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (July 6, 2020)

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