The Dakota Access pipeline must cease operations within 30 days, pending further environmental review, a federal judge ruled. The groundbreaking decision marks a new victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who have been in vocal opposition of and litigation against the pipeline in its three-year run.
“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” Chairman Mike Faith of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a statement. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said a crucial federal permit for Dakota Access fell short of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements and therefore will be shut down and empty of oil, despite the “disruption” it will cause, until a full environmental review, that was previously ordered, is conducted.
“The [Army Corps of Engineers] had failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement despite conditions that triggered such a requirement,” the court ruling stated. “Given the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease.”
Much controversy of the pipeline stemmed from its proximity to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and its route across Lake Oahe in the Missouri River, which tribal officials say threaten their source of water and put their cultural resources at risk.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with several other tribes, environmentalists and indigenous advocates, spent months camped out in North Dakota in protest.
The Army Corps of Engineers must now prepare a new environmental impact statement following its Aug. 5 closure in order to continue operations of the pipeline, which they anticipate to complete by mid-2021.