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Tribes Hope Dakota Access Pipeline Victory Isn't Short Lived

The Dakota Access oil pipeline, which began operating in 2017, is just downstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The project drew heavy protests while it was being constructed.  (insideclimatenews.org)
The Dakota Access oil pipeline, which began operating in 2017, is just downstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The project drew heavy protests while it was being constructed. (insideclimatenews.org)
July 7, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Tribal leaders opposed to the Dakota Access oil pipeline say there's still a long way to go in their pursuit of permanently stopping its use. And the company that operates the pipeline says it will appeal a judge's ruling to temporarily shut it down.

On Monday, a federal judge sided with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in saying the controversial pipeline did not receive an adequate environmental review. The judge said Energy Transfer must halt production by early August as the review process unfolds.

Doug Crow Ghost, director of the tribe's Water Resources Department, said it's clear the judge carefully considered their technical arguments.

"He understood fully what exactly we were saying from the beginning about the shutoff valves, about how there's no response plan for a spill," Crow Ghost said.

The pipeline, which has been in operation for three years, was met with heavy protests during construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which rests along the North Dakota-South Dakota border.

Energy Transfer, as well as many state officials, have said shutting down the line during the crisis could be a devastating blow to North Dakota's economy.

Crow Ghost said he knows that will be one of the factors they will be up against as they continue to argue their case. And he said while he knows the legal fight isn't over, he believes the power of demonstration will lift pipeline opponents to ultimate victory.

"We had millions of people from around the world pray with us from 2016 all the way up to today," he said. "The prayer's still strong."

Meanwhile, company officials called the judge's ruling "an ill-thought-out decision." They said the oil will have be distributed by rail during the temporary shutdown, creating more potential safety issues.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - ND