Tribes ask court to shut down Dakota Access pipeline

Tribes ask court to shut down Dakota Access pipeline
© Greg Nash

A pair of American Indian tribes are asking a federal court to immediately shut down the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, whose reservations are near the route of the North Dakota to Illinois line, say that since a Washington, D.C., court found the Army Corps of Engineers did not conduct a proper environmental review of the project, shutting it down is the only proper course of action.

“The question before the court now is whether the pipeline should continue operating, exposing the tribes to the very risks that the Corps will be examining, while this remand is underway,” the tribes wrote, referring to certain parts of the environmental review that the agency is redoing.

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“Under both the law of this Circuit as well as the history of this action, the answer is no,” they continued.

“The Corps must prepare a new [environmental] analysis of key issues at the heart of this dispute and make a new decision based on a full and objective analysis. The only way to ensure the integrity of that process, and reduce the risks to the tribes that the process is supposed to be analyzing, is by applying the default remedy of vacatur — as virtually every court to face a similar situation has done.”

The brief, filed late Monday in the District Court for the District of Columbia, came after Judge James Boasberg’s June ruling that the Army Corps’ review leading to its approval of the final piece of the pipeline was inadequate.

Boasberg said the review was acceptable for the most part, but 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.”

In that ruling, Boasberg said the line can continue to operate for the time being, but he’ll consider ordering it shut down.

The Army Corps said last month that its additional analysis would likely be done in December.

In the meantime, the agency’s attorneys said, ordering a shutdown “would be inconsistent with this circuit's precedent and would result in undue hardship and additional risks and concerns for the federal government, the pipeline owner, and the public.”