Report: Environmentalists angry after federal judge keeps Dakota Access Pipeline in operation

A number of Democrats, Native American tribes, and environmentalist groups fought hard to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline from being constructed, and have waged pressure campaigns and legal battles ever since its inception, citing its potential negative effects on the environment.

According to the Washington Examiner, those groups suffered a massive loss this week as D.C. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled that the tribal groups suing to shut down the Energy Transfer-owned pipeline while it undergoes a federal environmental review had failed to meet the burden of proof with regard to the pipeline’s potential negative impact on the surrounding environment. 

The 1,200-mile pipeline, a project that was brought back to life by former President Donald Trump in 2017, carries oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

Failure to prove

In his opinion on the ruling, Judge Boasberg wrote that the tribes suing to shutter the pipeline “must demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury from the action they seek to enjoin — to wit, the pipeline’s operation,” adding that the “Plaintiffs have not cleared that daunting hurdle.”

The news comes on the heels of an earlier victory scored last year by opponents of the pipeline in which a federal judge rejected a Trump-issued permit to keep the pipeline operational. The pipeline was also ordered to be shut down at the time.

A federal appeals court later reversed that ruling and ordered the pipeline to remain in full operation while an environmental review was conducted.

According to The Hill, the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Ogala Sioux, and Yankton Sioux tribes expressed their concern that keeping the pipeline in operation increases the chances of an oil spill that would harm their communities.

“The unacceptable risk of an oil spill, impacts to Tribal sovereignty and harm to drinking water supply must all be examined thoroughly in the months ahead as the U.S. Army Corps conducts its review of this pipeline,” said Jan Hasselman, an attorney representing the tribes.

Energy Transfer fights back

Contrary to the claims from the tribes involved in the litigation, pipeline owner Energy Transfer insisted that the safest and most environmentally friendly method of transporting the oil is through its pipeline.

“Dakota Access has been safely operating for four years and as the events of the last few weeks have demonstrated, pipelines are the best and safest way to transport critical oil and natural gas supplies throughout the country,” the company wrote in a statement.

President Biden also disappointed opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline last month after he decided to not wield executive power to shut it down while it underwent the federal review, sparking anger from many in his own party.

For unknown reasons, Democrats refuse to acknowledge that without a pipeline, moving such a large volume of oil would take thousands of semi-trucks, tankers, and monumental resources, which would result in a far greater carbon footprint and environmental impact than a state-of-the-art, heavily monitored pipeline.

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