Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline shut down pending review

In his order on Monday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that the closure must take place in the next 30 days.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Holds Rally In Opposition To Dakota Access Pipeline
A demonstrator in front of the White House during a protest organized by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous grassroots leaders against the Dakota Access pipeline in March 2017.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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By Elizabeth Chuck

A federal judge on Monday ordered the Dakota Access pipeline to shut down pending further environmental review, a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that the pipeline must close in the next 30 days.

Protesters have argued that the oil pipeline project poses both a cultural and an environmental threat to the land it runs through. Proponents say it is a financial boon, creating jobs and bringing money into local economies.

The order to shutter the pipeline comes after a protracted legal battle.

“It took four long years, but today justice has been served at Standing Rock,” attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said in a press release. “If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on. ”

Mike Faith, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, called it a historic day.

“This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning,” he said in the same press release.

Energy Transfer, the Texas-based company behind the pipeline, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the oil company has insisted in the past that the pipeline, which runs underneath the Missouri River where the Standing Rock tribe draws its water from, is safe.

During its construction along the border of North Dakota and South Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is, protesters around the country gathered in support of the tribe. The protests led to numerous arrests and were at times violent.

Monday's court decision comes after an order on March 25 from the same judge, which said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should conduct a full environmental review of the pipeline. At the time, it was not clear whether the order would shut down the pipeline, which has carried oil for three years.

"The Court does not reach its decision with blithe disregard for the lives it will affect. It readily acknowledges that, even with the currently low demand for oil, shutting down the pipeline will cause significant disruption to DAPL, the North Dakota oil industry, and potentially other states," Boasberg wrote in his order on Monday.

Permits for the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile underground pipeline had initially been rejected by the Obama administration. The permits for it were granted in February 2017 under President Donald Trump, when the Army Corps of Engineers stated it had found no significant environmental threats posed by the project.

Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, a Republican, slammed the court order shortly after it was released.

“Shutting down the Dakota Access pipeline would have devastating consequences to North Dakota and to America’s energy security," Cramer said in a statement. "This terrible ruling should be promptly appealed.”