Standing Rock, Energy Transfer Partners dig in for ongoing DAPL court battle
Renae Ditmer • June 26, 2017
Contrary to popular opinion, the fight over the fate of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is not over. In reality, it is just beginning. Oil will continue to flow while environmental justice issues are resolved.
On June 14 Judge James Boasberg of U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. had directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider sections of its environmental analysis on the 1,172-mile-long pipeline, in particular the easements it granted for drilling under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.
For the moment, about 540,000 barrels per day are moving through the 30-inch pipeline while the court considers a shutoff as a separate question. Normally, though, in cases where a permit is deemed incomplete but has already been issued, the permit is pulled, which in this case would mean stopping the oil, which has been moving through the pipeline since June 1.
Keeping the pipeline open marked a departure from normal procedure, said attorney Jan Hasselman of the environmental law firm Earth Justice, which is representing the tribal plaintiffs. He said it was the first decision that he was aware of in which a federal court focused on an allegedly flawed environmental justice analysis under NEPA as the basis of requiring the Army Corps to revisit conditions for a permit.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe previously had not convinced Judge James Boasberg of the merit of their claims under the National Historic Preservation Act and Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But on June 14 Boasberg found merit in their claim under the National Environmental Policy Act, ruling that the Army Corps “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.”