Washington, D.C. – The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe today filed a major legal brief challenging the Trump Administration’s hasty approval of the controversial Dakota Access crude oil pipeline, a project in which the President and his associates have had close financial ties. The Tribe’s summary judgment asks the Court to overturn recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits of the pipeline issued without environmental review or consideration of treaty rights.
The Tribe seeks resolution of these claims on an expedited schedule that would have the issues resolved before the pipeline can go into operation. “President Trump claims he has not received ‘a single phone call’ opposing this widely criticized project.” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “Maybe he should turn the White House phones back on, because millions of people have raised their voices against this dangerous project.”
On Feb. 8, the Trump Administration granted an easement allowing the pipeline to be constructed under the Missouri River half a mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. It reverses an earlier decision by the Corps to withhold the easement while the agency completed an environmental review of alternate pipeline routes and the Tribe’s treaty rights. The environmental review, referred to as an environmental impact statement, has been wrongfully terminated mid-process. The lawsuit challenges the Corps’ hasty and unexplained departure from its previous decision, and explains how the Corps ignored the Tribe’s treaty rights and seeks to destroy culturally significant and sacred sites. It also explains how the Corps violated federal statutes requiring close environmental analysis of significant and controversial agency actions.
“In this arbitrary and capricious reversal of course, the Trump Administration is circumventing the law: wholly disregarding the treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux and ignoring the legally required environmental review. It isn’t the 1800s anymore – the U.S. government must keep its promises to the Standing Rock Sioux and reject rather than embrace dangerous projects that undercut Treaties,” said Jan Hasselman, the Earthjustice attorney who is representing the Tribe in its challenges against the pipeline.
A copy of the Tribe’s motion asking the Court to vacate and set aside the permits to cross under Lake Oahe is available here.