Federal Court Gives Legal Ruling for Tribes Fighting Dakota Access Pipeline

Tribal leaders say they intend to ask federal courts to immediately shut down operations of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota following a Wednesday night court ruling in their favor.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered regulators to carry out more review of the project’s potential impacts. The pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners LP of Dallas,  is already carrying oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

The 91-page ruling gave hope to leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who had challenged the pipeline in court last summer. Now the future could be unclear for the pipeline.

“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,” tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. “We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.”

Oklahomans joined thousands in camping out and demonstrating at the pipeline’s site where it went under Lake Oahe, a dammed section of the Missouri River.

Jan Hasselman, an attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice called the decision 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, “said Hasselman. “The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities.”

Just two weeks ago, ETP announced the commercial service operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline which are collectively the “Bakken Pipeline.”

The Bakken line is owned by Dakota Access and Energy transfer Crude Oil Company and is 1,872 miles in length, carrying oil from the Bakken/Three Forks productions areas in North Dakota to a storage and terminaling hub near Patoka, Illinois.

Like the Bakken, the Dakota Access is a 30-inch diameter line 1,172 miles long carrying oil across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. The oil originates at six terminal locations in the North Dakota counties of Mountrail, Williams and McKenzie and is delivered to the hub outside Patoka, Illinois.