Sep 10, 2016 - Court Rulings, Federal Intervention and What’s Next in the Battle Against the Dakota Access Pipeline by Matt Remle
September 9th, was a roller coaster day in the on-going battle over the construction on the Dakota Access pipeline.
First, Federal Judge James Boasberg denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction against the Dakota Access pipeline. The Tribe had filed the injunction in effort to stop the pipelines construction from going underneath the Missouri river. They further stated that the U.S. Army Corps had failed to conduct a proper environmental and cultural impact study.
After the Judge’s decision, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe immediately filed an “injunction pending appeal” in US District Court.
Not long after the Judge’s ruling, three Federal agencies the U.S. Department of the Interior, Department of Justice and Army Corps of Engineers issued a joint statement that effectively halted the construction of the pipeline on Corp lands bordering Lake Oahe and under the Missouri River.
“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.”
The agencies went on to state, “Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.”
In a statement Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II expressed his emotions on the day’s decisions.
“Our hearts are full. This an historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for tribes across the nation. Today, three federal agencies announced the significant decision to respect tribal sovereignty and stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Army Corps land. Our voices have been heard. The Obama administration has asked tribes to the table to make sure that we have meaningful consultation on infrastructure projects. Native peoples have suffered generations of broken promises and today the federal government said that national reform is needed to better ensure that tribes have a voice on infrastructure projects like this pipeline. I walk through the camps and I am filled with gratitude for the love and care that thousands have shown in this fight. I want to share with supporters that we at Standing Rock are thankful. We are blessed by your continued support. Let us remain in peace and solidarity as we work to permanently protect our water.”
Joye Braun of the Sacred Stone Camp stated the following on today’s events, “I’m happy but cautious. I at first thought cool they can’t cross the Missouri but then I remembered South Dakota and Iowa where more rivers are going to be crossed and more archeological sites will be destroyed. We have to stay vigilant. Energy Transfer Partners owners of Dakota Access have no conscious and are willing to destroy sacred sites and use dogs on people. This is pure evilness. So I’m happy for the partial win today but we are in this to win not be dissuaded by goodwill gestures. We will win. We stand. We stand for our people all people. We stand for Mni Wiconi, we stand for life.”
Kat Eng also from the Sacred Stone camp cautioned against people claiming victory, “Let’s be cautious about celebrating this. On one hand it seems clear that our pressure is having an effect. I know it’s far from over, and DAPL will continue to build the majority of the pipeline. We have seen time and time again a consistent strategy from the State in these situations: string out the process, break it to us gradually to avoid a big confrontation, present the illusion of careful thoughtful review of the case, tempt us with promises of modest reforms…but then in the end make the same decision that serves money not people. So far this is just talk, not actions. The tribe immediately filed an “injunction pending appeal” in US District Court. The company filed a response opposing the appeal, and then the Army Corps filed a response also opposing the appeal. It is almost certain the Judge will not change his decision, this is just a formality. Next step is the tribe will appeal at the US Court of Appeals next week. As we understand it, there is NOTHING legally binding in the DOJ’s joint statement. Again, not a victory yet.”
The Sacred Stone Camp released the following statement, “We have seen time and time again, a consistent strategy from the State in these situations: string out the process, break it to us gradually to avoid a big confrontation, present the illusion of careful, thoughtful review of the case, tempt us with promises of modest reforms…but then in the end make the same decision that serves money not people. So far this is just talk, not actions, and actions are all we should care about. Stop the pipeline, and then we’ll celebrate. We are not leaving until this is over.”
by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)
Matt Remle (third over L-R) is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. Follow @wakiyan7