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Court Rules to Empty Dakota Access Pipeline

A court ruled this morning that the Dakota Access Pipeline must be emptied by Aug. 5. This decision comes after years of protesting by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

In March, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg sided with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to strike down federal permits for the pipeline. The court stated that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately address oil spill concerns by the tribe in its initial 2017 environmental review. Boasberg then asked each side to submit a brief detailing whether or not the pipeline should be in operation during the review process.

Today, the court ruled in favor of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, requiring the Dakota Access Pipeline to halt oil flow while the review is being organized – which is expected to take 13 months.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is an Energy Transfer Partners LP project. It is 1,172 miles long and brings oil from North Carolina to Illinois. The pipeline runs across Lake Oahe, which is a part of the Missouri River. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is only a half-mile away from this crossing, and the tribe relies on the river for its water supply.

Legal opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline began in 2016 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the Missouri river crossing. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the Army Corps over this decision, and indigenous people and environmentalists from across the country came to North Dakota to protest.

In December 2016, the Obama administration denied permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline, ordering a full environmental impact report. In January 2017, Donald Trump issued an executive order approving the permits and expediting the construction. The pipeline was completed in June 2017.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith said of the initial March ruling: “After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win… It’s humbling to see how actions we took four years ago to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet. Perhaps in the wake of this court ruling the federal government will begin to catch on, too, starting by actually listening to us when we voice our concerns.”

Sources: Bloomberg Law 07/06, NPR 07/06, The Guardian 07/06, EarthJustice 07/06

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