A federal judge has ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline shut down, pending an environmental review.
The ruling on Monday hands a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, three years after the pipeline first began carrying oil following months of protests.
“Where the pipeline is, is right in the back of my father’s house. On top of that hill, my husband is buried, my son is buried, my cousins my father and so when we went to all the reviews and nobody was listening to us. All I could think of was how dare they,” shared landowner LaDonna Brave Bull Allard.
Allard owns the closest property to the Dakota Pipeline where she opened her family’s home to more than 100,000 protesters over the course of the NO DAPL protest. She’s ecstatic that all the fighting paid off.
“It’s shocking. A little bit unreal. And yet my mind is going 90 miles a minute about what I’m going to plant down there. I want to be the tree lines back in,” shared Allard.
Three years after it began pumping North Dakota crude oil to Illinois, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been ordered to shut down.
“The judge has been looking at both sides of the Dakota Access Pipeline and of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne Rivers technical experts. Trying to weigh out what’s most cost-effective, what’s more environmentally effective and what actually this pipeline going to do if it does break. If there is inclement weather,” shared Doug CrowGhost, the Water Resources Director for the tribe.
In a 24-page order, Federal Judge James Boasberg wrote he was mindful of the disruption such a shutdown would cause, but that it must be done by Aug. 5.
The 30-day shutdown recommendation came from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe technical consultants.
“That recommendation was by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. We recommended 30 days shut down. We didn’t recommend overnight. We didn’t recommend it’s 48 hours because to ramp down a half a million barrels of oil a day, to ramp it down? Takes days to do,” shared CrowGhost.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has argued since 2016 that the pipeline poses an environmental risk to tribal land and the ruling found that vital safety requirements were ignored.
“One of our key pieces, the whole legal battle was a report done through our tribal Game and Fish program. They talked about the natural resources and the sensitivity of the area where the pipeline crosses. And how that there’s a lot of biotas that reside there and they’re very crucial and very keystone pieces of the food chain,” shared Allyson Two Bears, the Director of Environmental Regulations for the tribe.
Tribal members also say it’s not only themselves they’re fighting for.
“I can be very fierce because I have two great-grandbabies and they have a right to live. I have 18 grandsons and they have a right to live. And they have a right to live in our own home,” shared Allard.
Standing Rock Tribal members say they know the fight is not over as they expect to receive an appeal from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Dakota Access Pipeline company.
Energy Transfer, the pipeline’s owner, says it believes that Judge Boasberg exceeded his authority in ordering the shutdown of the Pipeline, which, in their opinion, has been safely operating for more than three years.
The company went on to say they feel confident that ultimately, the decision will be reversed.