Native Americans Opposed To Dakota Access Pipeline Win A Round In Federal Court

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Federal judge James Boasberg has twice ruled against petitions brought by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that sought to block the Dakota Access pipeline. In fact, since Donald Trump took over the White House, the pipeline has been completed and begun transporting oil from the Alberta tar sands.

dakota-access-oahe-dam-usaceOn June 14, Judge Boasberg ruled in favor of the tribe on a third petition. In a 91-page decision, the judge ruled the Army Corps of Engineers failed to carry out an adequate review of the environmental consequences the pipeline could have when it first approved its construction.

Original Study Flawed

In particular, Boasberg found the original study by the Corps failed to adequately assess “the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice.” He ordered the Corps to create a new study that addresses those concerns.

“This is a a very significant victory and vindication of the tribe’s opinion,” said Jan Hasselman, the lead attorney for the case. He is employed by Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group that represents the Standing Rock Sioux.

“The court slices things pretty thin, but there were three major areas that he found deficient, and they’re not insignificant. They’re central to the problems that we’ve been highlighting the whole time,” Hasselman told The Atlantic.

The judge left open the question of whether the pipeline would be ordered to cease operations in light of his decision. Instead, he scheduled a subsequent court appearance to address that issue.

Judge Has Three Main Concerns

Judge Boasberg had three main concerns about the existing Corps of Engineers study. First, he felt it did not assess the results an oil spill might have on the tribe’s hunting and fishing rights as guaranteed to them by various treaties.

Second, the report assess what effect chemicals used to clean up a potential spill might have on the local animals the tribe depends on for food. “Even though a spill is not certain to occur at Lake Oahe, the Corps still had to consider the impacts of such an event on the environment,” the judge said.

Third, court was concerned the Corps had relied too heavily on technicalities. Federal regulations, the kind that Trump so regularly rails against, require that every major project constructed near a poor community, community of color, or Native American reservation must be studied on environmental justice grounds. The Corps simply ignored those requirements because the pipeline runs 0.55 miles north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Trump’s Corruption

It is interesting that Trump is vitally concerned with slashing government regulations but does not have the mental capacity to see that his investments in the companies that benefit from the pipeline constitute a clear conflict of interest between his interests as a stockholder and his obligation to represent all the people of America, not just those who voted for him, making him the most corrupt putative president of all time.

This decision will enrage The Donald and give him even more reasons to hate the court system.

Source: The Atlantic

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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