At 1,168 miles, the Dakota Access Pipeline is almost as long as the controversial Keystone XL pipeline which was rejected last year. It is expected to extend over four states – from North Dakota to Illinois – and send 400,000 – 500,000 barrels of oil a day.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a legal claim against the US Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits at 200 water crossings, some near sacred Native American sites, on August 4th. The pipeline could also cause millions of peoples’ water supply to be contaminated if there are any disruptions or leaks in the pipeline. Their suit claims that the “Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it approved the project and that a more stringent environmental review should be done.”
Protests against the pipeline have been ongoing since April but only recently gain national and international media attention. Since then, other Native American tribes, celebrities and activists have gathered at the construction site and outside courts in Washington, DC, to protest the pipeline.
On August 24th, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had a preliminary injunction hearing to preserve the status quo until the situation can be resolved. However, the judge announced he would issue a decision in two weeks. North Dakota’s governor activated the National Guard to respond if protests get violent and provide security at traffic checkpoints ahead of the court decision.
However, right after the judge’s decision, federal agencies halted additional permitting for the pipeline and are reconsidering past permits. The joint statement from the Army and Departments of Justice said construction bordering or under Lake Oahe would not go forward until it has a chance to review the permits.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has already filed a notice of appeal of the ruling. Judge Boasberg has also called for the parties to appear for a status conference on September 16th.