environmental victory
July 6, 2020

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have won at least a temporary victory in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The more-than-1,000-mile oil pipeline must be shut down and drained of oil within 30 days, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg of the Washington, D.C. circuit ruled Monday. The pipeline was built and "oil commenced flowing" without a required environmental impact statement, Boasberg wrote in his opinion, meaning the pipeline will need to be shut down at least until that happens.

The pipeline runs from North Dakota's shale fields to Illinois, traveling under the Missouri River along the way. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe contended a leak in the pipe could contaminate their drinking water and otherwise runs through their sacred lands, prompting massive protests and a violent crackdown in 2016. The pipeline's construction was fast-tracked under the Trump administration, and was allowed to commence even without an environmental impact statement mandated under the National Environmental Policy Act.

In response, the tribes launched a lawsuit against Dakota Access and the Army Corps of Engineers. Dakota Access argued shutting down the pipeline would cut their profits and force them to lay off workers, but Boasberg still ruled in the tribes' favor on Monday. The Corps failed to "substantiate" their reasoning for not including the impact statement, Boasberg said. However his decision still leaves the door open for Dakota Access to resume running the pipeline following further review. Kathryn Krawczyk

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