Federal Judge Orders Dakota Access Pipeline Shut Down

Fargo, ND – After years of ongoing litigation surrounding the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), today District Judge James Boasberg ordered that the pipeline be shut down and emptied of oil within 30 days. Boasberg’s shutdown order is intended to last until the Army Corps of Engineers, who federally permitted the project to pass under Lake Oahe/the Missouri River, produces a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.

The Army Corps under President Barack Obama had declined to permit the pipeline to pass under Lake Oahe; one of President Trump’s first acts after inauguration was to reverse Obama’s directive to the Army Corps, green-lighting the pipeline with little to no additional review.

Judge Boasberg’s ruling (PDF) today states that the permitting of the Dakota Access Pipeline had constituted serious violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). He called out “deficiencies” in the Army Corps of Engineers’ review process and concluded that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, who brought the lawsuit, faced significant potential harms if the pipeline was allowed to continue operating.

Judge Boasberg previously ruled that the Army Corps’ environmental review was inadequate in July 2017.

Several spills from the Dakota Access Pipeline were also publicly reported in March and April 2017, before the pipeline had even begun commercial operations.

For years, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has insisted that the pipeline posed a serious risk of spilling oil into the Missouri River, the main source of drinking water for the Standing Rock tribal nation as well as millions of other people downriver. The pipeline also passes within a mile of the Standing Rock reservation boundary in southern North Dakota, and much of the pipeline route also lays on unceded territory belonging to the Očéti Šakówiŋ (seven council fires of the Great Sioux Nation made up of Lakota and Dakota peoples) under the Fort Laramie treaty of 1868, signed by the U.S. federal government.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, massive resistance by Indigenous water protectors and their allies systematically delayed construction on the pipeline. The pipeline construction was only ever completed under the guard of an enormous deployment of National Guard forces and police sent from across the USA to repress militant direct actions by pipeline opponents.

Hundreds of protesters, as well as many journalists, were arrested and violently abused by North Dakota law enforcement during the #NoDAPL movement. Many participants in the Standing Rock uprising were also arrested and jailed on federal charges, with several currently serving years after facing what were often seen as politically-motivated arrests and prosecutions.

To learn more about the history of the Indigenous-led struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, check out Unicorn Riot’s free, feature-length documentary ‘Black Snake Killaz: A #NoDAPL Story’:

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supportourworknew Below is Unicorn Riot's coverage of the #NoDAPL anti-Dakota Access Pipeline struggle from early summer 2016 to present:

Watch our feature-length documentary, Black Snake Killaz: A #NoDAPL Story

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