This Tuesday federal judge U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied the request from Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River tribes which could have seen a halt to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Energy Transfer Partners (The company responsible for the pipeline), have been drilling under Lake Oahe for the last few weeks, and has said the pipeline could be producing oil as soon as next week.
Boasberg Explained “Since last summer, the question of whether Dakota Access should route its oil pipeline near the reservations of American Indian tribes has engendered substantial debate both on the ground in North and South Dakota and here in Washington.
“… At the start of 2017, that pipeline was nearly complete, save a stretch — awaiting an easement — that was designed to run under the bed of Lake Oahe, a federally regulated waterway that forms part of the Missouri River and straddles North and South Dakota.
“Upon assuming office, President Trump directed an expedited approval process, and on February 8, the Army Corps of Engineers issued the easement that permitted Dakota Access to drill under the lake. Fearing that the presence of oil in the pipeline under Lake Oahe will cause irreparable harm to its members’ religious exercise, Cheyenne River responded with a Motion for Preliminary Injunction, in which it argues that the easement’s grant violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and requests that the Court enjoin the effect of the easement and thus the flow of oil, which is expected to commence in the next week or two.”
Due to his belief that the tribes were unlikely to win their lawsuit, Boasberg has denied the request to halt construction of the pipeline.
In response to the decision Chase Iron Eyes, the lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project has said-
“It is simply unacceptable that the government is allowing Energy Transfer Partners to build this pipeline through our sacred lands. The water the pipeline threatens supplies the Lakota and more than 17 million other people downstream.
Sunoco, which will operate Dakota Access upon its completion, is the worst pipeline company in America, responsible for more oil spills than any of its competitors. Sunoco is to blame for 254 pipeline leaks in the past 10 years alone, totaling nearly 1,200,000 gallons of oil despoiling Grandmother Earth in that time.
It’s reprehensible that Mr. Trump has fast-tracked this threat. It’s unconscionable that this administration is willing to forego the crucial environmental review demanded by tens of thousands of concerned citizens—not just the tribes, but people from all over the country who recognize the pipeline’s inherent danger. It’s unforgivable that there is no Plan B in the likely event of yet another spill.
Oil should never be allowed to flow through this pipeline until the legal process has played out in the courts, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s motion for a summary judgment. Now we have just learned that the army trusted a confidential memo from Energy Transfer Partners that intentionally masked the environmental and social justice impacts on our community.
Once again, the federal government and the army are treating the original inhabitants of this land as though we are less than human, as though our lives and lands are something to be ignored and discarded in the never-ending quest for profit.
The latest court ruling against my people is unjust and unacceptable. But I am here to tell you, this fight is not over and we will not surrender. Several steps remain in the legal process.
On March 10, Native Nations and water protectors from around the country will converge in Washington, D.C. to let the president, Judge Boasberg and the army know that they are accomplices to a dangerous, criminal corporation. If there is a spill, they will have oil and blood on their hands, and we will not let them forget it.”
Global protests have continued in opposition of the pipeline, including protests over the weekend outside Trump Tower. On March 10, the Native Nations March are also planning a demonstration in Washington, D.C.