Seven months ago, I first posted about the Dakota Access pipeline and the struggle the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was having to get it stopped. On the day of the posting (December 4, 2016), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they would not be granting an easement for the pipeline to go through, stopping the progress in its tracks, in a major victory for Standing Rock. President Obama ordered the permit to be pulled, and then said more study was required to see if the pipeline could be routed differently. It was a time of celebration, but the celebration did not last long.
Just over seven weeks later, and merely four days in office, President Trump resurrected the Black Snake (as Standing Rock calls the pipeline) with an executive memorandum -- a document similar to an executive order -- to put the Dakota Access pipeline back on track. Environmentalists and the Sioux tribe were appalled and in shock. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, was seen as a key in getting any and all permits secured. The fight went on, even though the Trump administration was seen, and still is seen, as a greater environmental threat.
Last month, Federal Judge James Boasberg ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers "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" in its initial issuance of an easement one year ago. Judge Boasberg did not, however, go so far as to say the pipeline should be shut down until a new environmental study is completed.
Where the Court had ruled against Standing Rock (i.e. the Corps did not act too quickly on permits earlier this year, the pipeline does not infringe on Standing Rock's cultural heritage), last month's ruling somewhat reversed that. Earlier this week, Judge Boasberg ruled that the Trump administration's hastily-approved permits from the Corps violated the law. Once again, Judge Boasberg did not rule that the pipeline should be shut down until a new environmental study is done.
The Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, David Archambault II, released a statement that read:
"The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this
pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental
considerations in favor of political and personal interests.
"We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue
political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations
Jan Hasselman, an attorney from EarthJustice, an Environmental Law law firm that is representing Standing Rock, added:
"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. The federal courts have stepped in where our
political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities."
The Black Snake has been stopped ... again ... but not for good. The fight goes on.