Standing Rock Tribes’ Last Minute Push to Halt Pipeline

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Although the Trump administration has given the “green light” to move ahead with the final phase of the Dakota Access Pipeline, protesters are attempting last minute ploys to stop its progress.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe insisted it will have its lawyers file another motion in court, this time trying to stop the ongoing project by stating that environmental impact studies weren’t conducted. On top of that motion, another tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux, will file its own motion protesting the pipeline on “religious grounds,” citing it threatens the sacred waters of American Indians.

U.S. Government lawyers maintain they do not need to conduct an environmental impact report and have defended the process that led to construction permits being approved last year though officials did not conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) review at that time.

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The Obama administration had asked for an environmental impact statement review in January, but President Trump issued a memo removing that review and allowing the project to move forward.

Dakota Access developers are readying to complete the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile project and expect to have it completed within two months.

Jan Hasselman an Earthjustice lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux, said “Construction has started. We are going to try to get these issues resolved before oil can flow, and so we’re moving very aggressively to put the legal questions in front of the judge and get a determination as soon as we can.”

Legal experts question the potential effectiveness of the tribes’ arguments.

Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia, said the complaint based on religious grounds, filed by the Cheyenne River Sioux, will likely run into problems because it hasn’t made a property rights claim on the Lake Oahe crossing.

Carl Tobias, a professor at the Richmond College of Law, stated this about the Standing Rock Sioux motion: “Pursuing an environmental impact statement could be a strong argument, but that time is running out. I think pressing for the EIS is good; it’s just the timing and all the pressure and what the president has said makes it very difficult.”

Dakota Access lawyers say the company followed all environmental requirements and protected the region’s cultural sites, having lost millions of dollars each week before receiving an easement, and concluded they “[won’t be] turning back now.”

Attorney David Debold said at a hearing on Monday, “The company is moving as quickly as it can to complete the pipeline to make up for lost time over the last couple of months.We’re not in a position where we can agree to any stoppage of the work.”

H/T: The Hill

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