DAPL supporters led by the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now said the ruling had disposed of almost all legal challenges, and the "handful" of claims upheld did "nothing to impact the ongoing operation of the pipeline, nor do they undermine the work of the more than 8,000 individuals across the four states who built it", said spokesperson Craig Stevens.
The pipeline has been the focus of legal maneuvering and protests for months. It won't stop the oil flow necessarily, but the judge's opinion is a small victory for the Standing Rock Sioux, who have been taking their fight to the courts since the encampments were disbanded in February. The permits were issued by the Trump administration just days after his inauguration. After a brief review, the Army Corps determined that its initial environmental assessment was legally sound, reversed its intent to conduct an environmental impact statement and issued the easement permit. "The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests". In particular, the Corps failed to adequately review the pipeline's effect on fishing rights, hunting rights, environmental justice, or the controversial nature of its construction.
The judge did not render a decision on whether the pipeline - which has been transporting oil since June 1 - should remain operational while the Army Corps reconsiders the environmental study. The Standing Rock reservation lies just outside that boundary. Supporters of the pipeline also praised it for rejecting much of the tribes' arguments against the pipeline.
The Court ruled against the Tribe on several other issues, finding that the reversal allowing the pipeline complied with the law in some respects.
- 350 dot org (@350) June 14, 2017Federal court: Dakota Access & Army Corps violated the law.
Likewise, the GAIN coalition, a pro-infrastructure group, hailed the ruling for affirming much of the Corps' review.
Thrust into the center of an escalating battle between the energy industry and environmentalists a year ago, the Dakota Access construction site near Lake Oahe in North Dakota served for months as a stage for demonstrations by Native Americans and activists waging war against shale oil and gas projects.
"Such a move, of course, would carry serious consequences that a court should not lightly impose", Boasberg continued, noting that courts have discretion to consider the "seriousness of the order's deficiencies" and the "disruptive consequences" that would follow if permits are revoked. As environmental groups feared, the pipeline nearly immediately began to spring leaks.
A hearing is scheduled for next week to hear arguments from both sides.
Former President Barack Obama intervened at the tail-end of his presidency and halted the construction of the pipeline, ordering an environmental impact statement to assess risks involved with the pipeline. Their ranks swelled in late summer after construction crews bulldozed a site sacred to Native Americans.