Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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Federal court rules in favor of the tribes


U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in an ongoing lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers and Energy Transfer Partners regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ordered Energy Transfer Partners to submit bi-monthly safety reports about the status of the pipeline. He also ordered the Corps and ETP to collaborate with both tribes on a spill-response plan.

Tribal contract lawyer, Nikki Ducheneaux, released a statement immediately after the court ruling.

“We had a big victory back in June when the court ruled that the Corps’ decision to grant permits to drill under the Missouri River was unlawful on three separate grounds, including Treaty violations. The Court sent the issue back to the Corps to reconsider those three issues. In the meantime; however, the Court refused to stop the flow of oil during the remand process, which was a blow. The Tribes requested instead certain safety measures that would protect our lands and our resources in the event of a spill,” said Ducheneaux.

The recent oil spill from the Keystone 1 pipeline near Amherst impacted yesterday’s ruling. Over 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from the pipeline, 30 minutes from the Lake Traverse Indian reservation.

“We were very pleased that the Court explicitly acknowledged the recent Keystone spill as a factor in its conclusion that the safety of these pipelines is not a foregone conclusion, as our government and the industry would have us believe,” said Ducheneaux.

The Dakota Access Pipeline crosses the Missouri River, the main source of water for the Cheyenne River Sioux, Standing Rock Sioux, and Oglala Sioux Tribes.

The tribes have argued that the pipeline endangers the Mni Waste and Mni Wiconi water intake systems, which provide water for over 80,000 people in South Dakota.

Judge Boasberg also ordered ETP to work with the tribes to select an independent engineering company to review whether the project complies with federal laws and regulations.

“Good news all around!” said Ducheneaux.