Dakota Access Pipeline lawsuit dismissed, tribal and oil industry leaders react

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:13 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - On Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed the Dakota Access Pipeline lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. However, this doesn’t close the book on the legal battle over the pipeline.

While the current lawsuit has been closed out, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg outlined a path to future litigation if the tribe wishes to pursue it. The lawsuit can be reopened if there’s a violation of the court’s prior orders in the case.

Officials on both sides of the issue say Judge Boasberg’s decision didn’t come as a surprise.

“It brings a great deal of certainty to the situation as the Army Corps works to complete its environmental impact statement,” said Brady Pelton with the ND Petroleum Council.

Tribal leaders say they’re still concerned about the impact the pipeline will have on the environment.

“People are not looking into the future of younger generations to have a clean environment, the almighty dollar seems to be clouding up eyes here,” said Chairman Mike Faith with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Upon completion of the latest Environmental Impact Statement, the tribe is able to file a separate lawsuit under the same judge if they wish to do so.

“We have to show the court that the pipeline can and will break, the impact that will affect all of those downstream,” said Faith.

The lawsuit’s dismissal follows Boasberg’s decision in May, which allowed the pipeline to continue flowing while undergoing environmental review. Oil industry leaders say they’re happy with the judge’s recent decisions.

“Relief is the tone of the day. The Dakota Access Pipeline transports almost 600,000 barrels of Bakken Crude per day to the best markets in the country,” said Pelton.

While the dismissal is good news for the oil industry, Chairman Mike Faith says the tribe will continue to fight.

The Army Corps of Engineers has said the environmental impact statement on the pipeline is expected to be completed in 2022.

North Dakota’s Congressional delegation also reacted to the dismissal, saying the continuation of the Dakota Access Pipeline is what’s best for the state.

“It’s the most environmentally sound way to move that energy to market. It’s got the latest, greatest safety features so it protects not only Standing Rock but everybody downstream,” said Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND).

Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) agrees.

“As an important part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, Dakota Access Pipeline’s been successfully moving reliable energy for over four years now, and in a more environmentally friendly way than any other method, really,” said Cramer.

Representative Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) says he feels Judge Boasberg made the right decision.

This lawsuit was rightfully dismissed. I am confident that when the Army Corps of Engineers completes their second environmental review, they will again conclude that the DAPL is safe and provides immense value to the people of North Dakota,” said Armstrong.

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