Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"This decision marks an important turning point," said Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice. (Photo: Joe Brusky/flickr/cc)

In 'Significant' Win for Water Protectors, Judge Orders Review of DAPL Permits

"We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the court to shut down pipeline operations immediately," said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II

Jake Johnson

Water protectors celebrated a "very significant victory" on Wednesday as a federal judge deemed safety evaluations of the Dakota Access Pipeline insufficient and ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to "reconsider" its analysis of the risks the crude oil pipeline poses to the environment and the public.

"The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities."
—Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice

In a 91-page ruling (pdf), U.S. District Judge James Boasberg declared that the Corps "did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the  pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial."

While acknowleging the ruling—which resulted from a lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe—as a partial victory because the judge did not order the oil flow stopped, Native American tribes and activists across the country deemed it a substantial win nonetheless.

"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," said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a statement. "We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the court to shut down pipeline operations immediately."

Jan Hasselman, an attorney for Earthjustice, said the ruling should not be downplayed as merely exposing "minor, paperwork transgressions."

"This decision marks an important turning point," Hasselman said. "Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been disregarded by the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump administration—prompting a well-deserved global outcry. The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities."

Shortly after entering office, President Donald Trump made clear he would do everything he could to ensure the $3.8 billion project moves forward. As environmental groups feared, the pipeline almost immediately began to spring leaks.

The judge's ruling on Wednesday represents the "first legal victory" for those looking to cease the oil flow before more damage is done.

"We've been saying the Environmental Analysis was not in line with the law, and that based on treaty rights, this project should never have been built," Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Lakota community organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a statement. "While we wish the flow of oil would be stopped until the hearings are completed, we trust that through prayer and continued vigilance we will stop the flow of oil and make Energy Transfer Partners and this administration keep fossil fuels in the ground."


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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'A Very Serious Threat': CDC Document Warns Delta Variant Is as Contagious as Chickenpox

"People need to understand that we're not crying wolf here," said the CDC director. "It's one of the most transmissible viruses we know about."

Jake Johnson ·


As Biden Refuses to Act, Dems Make Last-Minute Push to Extend Eviction Moratorium

"If the administration won't act to extend the national eviction moratorium that expires on Saturday, we must," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Jake Johnson ·


Poll: Overwhelming Majority of US Voters Want Robust Regulation of Tech Companies

"When it comes to Big Tech's monopoly power and surveillance business model, the public is unified: They want action. They want to see the Big Tech companies broken up and users' privacy protected."

Brett Wilkins ·


228 Republicans Blasted for Brief Urging Supreme Court to Overturn Roe v. Wade

"Every single politician who signed this amicus brief is actively working to strip away our fundamental freedoms and endanger pregnant people and families across the country."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Historic Victory': Bayer to End US Residential Sales of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides

"As agricultural, large-scale use of this toxic pesticide continues, our farmworkers remain at risk. It's time for EPA to act and ban glyphosate for all uses."

Kenny Stancil ·