Over the past several days, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has protested and pursued in court a case against the federal government over the Dakota Access Pipeline. Opponents of building the pipeline are concerned with its environmental impact as well as its location on sacred ground and say that they were not properly consulted about its construction.
In their statement to the federal court, the tribe wrote that:
‘The construction and operation of the pipeline … threatens the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the Tribe.’
Protests of the pipeline and attempts to halt its progress recently led to violence against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Mother Jones reported that protesters were maced and even attacked by dogs. The situation reached urgent levels as these Native Americans fought for their rights only to be shot down in federal court.
In a ruling on Friday, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that construction on the pipeline could continue, and it seemed all hope was lost. In a last minute save, however, the Obama Administration announced that construction would halt.
The United States Department of Justice, the Department of the Army, and the Department of Interior released a statement saying:
‘The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
‘Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.’
Another victory for human rights, and as always, it happened under President Obama.
For more on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the protests against it, see video below:
Featured image screengrab via YouTube