Just moments after a federal judge denied the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s request to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline on Sept. 10, the tribe and its hundreds of supporters won a huge, albeit temporary victory, when the Obama administration announced that it would not authorize any further construction of the pipeline for now.
“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,” said a joint statement by the Department of Justice, the US Army and the Department of the Interior.
The proposed Dakota Access pipeline project would transport crude oil from North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois to an existing oil terminus near Patoka, Illinois. The Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) claims local Native American tribes and nations were not “consulted in an appropriate manner” about the project, as the US Army Corps of Engineers is required to do in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106).
In July 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe filed a complaint in federal court, claiming the proposed 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.” The Standing Rock Tribe has since been joined by hundreds of other supporters, including other Native American activists and environmental groups. The protesters made national headlines last week when video surfaced of private security personnel attacking Native men, women, and children with dogs and mace.
The US government conceded that 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.” The joint cabinet statement concluded with an invitation to a formal discussion this fall between government agencies and tribes. The meeting would be designed to ensure more meaningful tribal input on infrastructure changes.