Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

I am here to tell you, this fight is not over and we will not surrender," said Chase Iron Eyes. "Several steps remain in the legal process." (Photo: AP)

Sioux Vow to 'Stand Strong' as Judge Paves Way for DAPL Oil to Flow

DAPL may be operational as soon as next week, but tribes' legal battle will continue after judge rejects injunction request

Nadia Prupis

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) could be operational by next week, after a U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday ruled against two tribes who had asked him to issue a preliminary injunction pausing construction.

The Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux said their legal battle would continue, despite Judge James Boasberg's ruling.

"While this preliminary ruling is disappointing, it's not surprising. It is very difficult to get an injunction in a case like this. The bigger legal battle is ahead—we stand strong," said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux.

The tribes had asked Boasberg to instruct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw permission for DAPL's parent company, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), to install pipes beneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota. President Donald Trump in January issued an executive order expediting DAPL's construction and canceling the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which was underway at the time he took office.

Associated Press reports that Boasberg ruled against the tribes on the grounds that they had presented their new case—that the pipeline infringes on their right to practice their religion, which relies on clean water—too late.

However, no final decisions have been made on the tribes' longstanding argument that DAPL threatens their cultural sites and access to clean water, and that the government should conduct a full EIS before allowing construction to move forward.

A ruling on those issues is not expected until April. At that time, Boasberg can "order the pipeline turned back off, and that's what we'll be asking for," Standing Rock attorney Jan Hasselman told the AP.

And Archambault continued, "Trump and his friends at Big Oil have not won. Today's ruling does not hurt the strength of our legal arguments challenging the illegal easement approved by the Trump administration."

The ruling comes as a confidential memo from ETP, made available through court records, shows the company intentionally buried the pipeline's impact on Indigenous communities to justify moving its original route away from majority-white and financially stable communities near Bismarck and toward the Standing Rock reservation.

"They've gerrymandered the things they are comparing in the analysis to reach an absurd result, which is that the selection of the Oahe crossing instead of the Bismarck route doesn't have environmental justice implications," Hasselman told InsideClimate News on Monday.

Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota People's Law Project lead counsel, said Tuesday, "Once again, the federal government and the army are treating the original inhabitants of this land as though we are less than human, as though our lives and lands are something to be ignored and discarded in the never-ending quest for profit."

"The latest court ruling against my people is unjust and unacceptable. But I am here to tell you, this fight is not over and we will not surrender," he said. "Several steps remain in the legal process."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Intentional Vandalism' Leaves Thousands Without Power in North Carolina

One right-wing extremist implied that multiple electrical substations were targeted to disrupt a drag show in Moore County. Local law enforcement authorities and the FBI are investigating.

Kenny Stancil ·


GOP Silence on Trump's Call to Axe Constitution Reveals 'Full Embrace of Fascism': House Dem

"Last week the leader of the Republican Party had dinner with a Nazi leader and a man who called Adolf Hitler 'great,'" said Rep. Bill Pascrell. "Yesterday Trump called for throwing out the Constitution and making himself dictator."

Kenny Stancil ·


Protesting Fuel Poverty, People Tell UK Government to 'Keep Everyone Warm This Winter'

As energy bills—and fossil fuel profits—continue to soar, demonstrators around Britain demanded immediate action from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and members of Parliament.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Turn Off the Tap on Plastic,' UN Chief Declares Amid Debate Over New Global Treaty

"Plastics are fossil fuels in another form," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, "and pose a serious threat to human rights, the climate, and biodiversity."

Kenny Stancil ·


EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

"Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently," said one activist in Alaska.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo