A judge in the US District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline must cease operations and be emptied of oil by Aug. 5.
The decision by Judge James Boasberg came as an Army Corps of Engineers that received federal approval for the pipeline was producing an environmental review.
Crude oil began to flow through the pipeline in 2017. The $3.8-billion pipeline extends over 1,770 kilometers from North Dakota to Illinois, carrying 570,000 barrels of oil per day. For years, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Dakota fought against the pipeline’s construction.
The tribe filed against the pipeline in August 2016 alleging that the Corps had failed to consult tribe members adequately before approving the pipeline, and had violated the National Historic Preservation Act. The tribe’s resistance to halt the oil flow gained the support of many people all over the country.
“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,” said Chairman Mike Faith of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
The pipeline company, Energy Transfer, in a statement said they would appeal to the “ill-thought” decision.
“The economic implications of the Judge’s order are too big to ignore and we will do all we can to ensure its continued operation,” Energy Transfer’s statement read.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline is the only direct pipeline from North Dakota to the distribution hub in Patoka, Illinois, from where this domestically, Bakken-produced crude oil is transported to refineries throughout the Midwest and the Gulf Coast,” the company said and added that billions of dollars in tax and royalty revenue would be lost and the crude oil would now be transported by rail, increasing environmental risks to areas along the transport corridors.
Oil Change International, a US-based research, communication, and advocacy organization, described the decision as “a tremendous win” for the indigenous communities who have fought against the pipeline for years.
“The Army Corps and other agencies have issued permits for years that harm communities and the environment and favor fossil fuel interests over the law. Rulings like today’s expose the fact that dozens of fossil fuel infrastructure projects have been built in the last decade that should never have been granted permits,” it added.
The US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, however, said the decision was disappointing, as “an energy infrastructure project that provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic revenue has been shut down.”
By Sibel Morrow