A federal judge has ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to be shutdown and demands all oil be removed without 30 days.
This is a huge victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, environmental activists, and the other plaintiffs fighting this battle. According to Associated Press, this decision is also a blow to President Donald Trump’s efforts to weaken public health and environmental protections his administration views as obstacles to businesses.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe feared the pipeline would pollute their drinking water and would damage their sacred lands if the pipeline were to ever leak.
As reported by Indian Country Today, in a 24-page order, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that he was “mindful of the disruption” that shutting down the pipeline would cause, but that it must be done within 30 days. The order comes after Boasberg said in April that a more extensive review was necessary than what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had already conducted and that he would consider whether the pipeline would have to be shuttered during the new assessment.
This is the first time a federal judge has closed an operating pipeline for environmental reasons. A full environmental review would have to take place to reinstate the pipeline, but that could take several years and additional permits. It would also leave the approval to reinstate in the hands of another administration.
According to EcoWatch, the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline currently carries 570,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. It was the subject of high-profile Indigenous-led protests in 2016 and 2017.
“This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning,” says Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Mike Faith.
“The Court does not reach its decision with blithe disregard for the lives it will affect. It readily acknowledges that, even with the currently low demand for oil, shutting down the pipeline will cause significant disruption to DAPL, the North Dakota oil industry, and potentially other states,” says Boasberg.
This decision comes 24 hours after Dominion and Duke Energy announced they were canceling their planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline.