Though many believed the fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) ended when President Donald Trump signed an executive order to allow construction, the Standing Rock Sioux are continuing their effort to halt the project.
On Friday (August 16), Earthjustice, which represents the tribe, filed a motion in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia requesting a pause in construction until a new environmental assessment is completed that includes their input.
According to ThinkProgress:
At issue is a key February 2017 environmental easement which enabled the Corps to proceed with DAPL construction. That easement allowed Energy Transfer Partners, which controls the pipeline, to avoid an environmental impact statement, which would have required a thorough review of DAPL’s potential impacts to water and wildlife.
The Standing Rock Sioux argues, as written in the 63-page motion, that the Army Corps of Engineers “never engaged with the tribe or its technical experts, shared critical information or responded to the tribe’s concerns” about environmental issues. Therefore, they assert, the previous assessment is incomplete and should be discarded. Until a new one is done, construction should not be permitted to continue.
Dakota Access is a 1,172-mile pipeline that runs from North Dakota to Illinois. Inside Climate News reports that there have been at least 10 spills totaling hundreds of gallons of crude oil since it began operating in June 2017. A portion of DAPL runs under the Missouri River, which supplies water to the Standing Rock Reservation that is located upstream. The tribe maintains that an oil spill near the reservation would significantly impact its water.
The 2016 movement to stop construction on the pipeline was led by the Standing Rock Sioux, but had global participation—from camps of protestors living on nearby land to efforts around the world to urge banks to divest from the project. Yet in January 2017, days after taking office, Trump issued an executive order that allowed construction to move forward.
Two months ago, Energy Transfer Partners alerted North Dakota’s Public Service Commission that it intends to double the amount of oil it can ship to 1.1 million barrels a day. This increase, according to Jan Hasselman, the Earthjustice attorney who represents Standing Rock, is “incredibly reckless.” He added in an interview with Inside Climate News, “You don't put double the amount of material in the same space and expect nothing to change in terms of the risks, in terms of the consequences of a spill. It's a different project, and before anyone approves something like this, there has to be another careful analysis of whether it's safe.”