Flags fly at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota. Lucas Zhao / CC BY-NC 2.0

Huge Victory: Court Finds Approval of Dakota Access Pipeline Violated the Law

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration must conduct additional environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline, handing a limited victory to Native American tribes fighting the administration's decision to move forward with the project.

In an extensive opinion, Washington, DC District Court Judge James Boasberg sided with the tribes by agreeing the Army Corps of Engineers "did not consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, human rights, or environmental justice."

"This decision marks an important turning point," said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. "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. The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities."

Boasberg did not order a shutdown of operations on the pipeline, which began pumping oil early this month. The tribes and pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners are ordered to appear in court next week to decide next legal steps, and the tribes are expected to argue for a full shutdown of pipeline operations.

Dallas Goldtooth, national Keep It In the Ground organizer for Indigenous Environmental Network, had this to say about the ruling:

"This is a huge victory for the tribal nations of the Oceti Sakowin, Water Protectors around the world and for the Indigenous leaders who led organizing efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"We're ecstatic with the court's decision, and applaud the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne Sioux for continuing to hold the line and take the fight against the Trump administration and the Dakota Access Pipeline to the nation's courts. We hope this decision leads to the stoppage of oil flowing in the Bakken crude oil pipeline as a permanent remedy to protecting the drinking water of the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Nations.

"Since the 1990s, our organization has been working to ensure the United States recognizes the need for environmental justice and for meaningful participation by Indigenous communities in permitting processes that will affect our sacred lands, inherent rights and access to clean water. We're seeing those efforts bear fruit, and now our movement has dealt a major blow to big oil.

"Despite underhanded, brutal tactics by Energy Transfer Partners to suppress Indigenous peoples, our movement will not be stopped. We will continue to support any and all efforts to divest from fossil fuels and stop the Dakota Access Pipeline once and for all."

For a deeper dive:

Washington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, The Hill, CNBC, The Atlantic, Seattle Times, InsideClimate News, Greenwire, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

Show Comments ()
Katharine Hayhoe talks climate communication hacks at the Natural Products Expo West Convention. Climate Collaborative

Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate Change

By Katie O'Reilly

Katharine Hayhoe isn't your typical atmospheric scientist. Throughout her career, the evangelical Christian and daughter of missionaries has had to convince many (including her pastor husband) that science and religion need not be at odds when it comes to climate change. Hayhoe, who directs Texas Tech's University's Climate Science Center, is CEO of ATMOS Research, a scientific consulting company, and produces the PBS Kids' web series Global Weirding, rose to national prominence in early 2012 after then-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dropped her chapter from a book he was editing about the environment. The reason? Hayhoe's arguments affirmed that climate change was no liberal hoax. The Toronto native attracted the fury of Rush Limbaugh, who encouraged his listeners to harass her.

Keep reading... Show less
Rising Tide NA / Twitter

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Protest Grows: Arrests Include a Greenpeace Founder, Juno-Nominated Grandfather

By Andy Rowell

Just because you get older, it doesn't mean you cannot stop taking action for what you believe in. And Monday was a case in point. Two seventy-year-olds, still putting their bodies on the line for environmental justice and indigenous rights.

Early Monday morning, the first seventy-year-old, a grandfather of two, and former nominee for Canada's Juno musical award, slipped into Kinder Morgan's compound at one of its sites for the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline and scaled a tree and then erected a mid-air platform with a hammock up in the air.

Keep reading... Show less

The Grapes of Trash

By Marlene Cimons

German monk and theologian Martin Luther probably said it best: "Beer is made by men, wine by God." It's true—the world loves its wine. Americans, in fact, downed close to a billion gallons of it in 2016. But winemakers create a lot of waste when they produce all that vino, most of it in seeds, stalks and skins.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Mike Pompeo Could Be Even Worse for the Environment Than Rex Tillerson

By Kelle Louaillier

As Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson was one of the most blatant revolving-door cases in the Trump administration and a clear sign that Trump's government was of, by and for the fossil fuel industry. But make no mistake: Mike Pompeo could be far worse.

Keep reading... Show less
Sudan, the world's last male northern white rhino. Ol Pejeta Conservancy

World's Last Male Northern White Rhino Dies

The world's last male northern white rhino has died, leaving only two females left to save the subspecies from extinction, the wildlife conservancy taking care of him announced Tuesday.

The 45-year-old rhinoceros, named Sudan, was euthanized Monday at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Keep reading... Show less

First Study on Climate Change and Internal Migration: World Bank Finds 140 Million Could Be Displaced by 2050

Much of the discussion around climate refugees has focused on movement between countries, with the Syrian refugee crisis serving as a chilling preview of the global exodus to come.

But a new report released by the World Bank on Monday honed in on the problem of internal displacement, finding that as many as 140 million people in three densely-populated, developing regions might be forced by climate change to migrate within their countries' borders by 2050. It is the first report to focus on the impact of climate change on intra-country migration specifically, The Guardian reported.

Keep reading... Show less

Fire Seasons Have Become Longer Globally, Experts Say

Experts say that climate change is lengthening global fire seasons, as the southern hemisphere experiences "freak autumn heat" and major weekend bushfires devastate the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales.

"March is not traditionally seen as a time when the bushfire danger escalates, but as the fires in Tartha NSW, and south west Victoria show, bushfires do not respect summer boundaries," said Richard Thornton, the CEO of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy

A Tale of Two Cities: How San Francisco and Burlington Are Shaping America's Low-Carbon Future

By Kyra Appleby

President Trump's commitment to pull out of the Paris agreement signaled what appeared to be the worst of times for a transition to a low-carbon future in the United States. But actions being taken by a significant number of cities could instead make it the best of times for renewable energy in America.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!