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

Common Dreams – by Jake Johnson – June 15, 2017

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

“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.

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.

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.

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Posted by Teri Perticone

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