Standing Rock confident legal case is strong, says court battle has just begun

Cannon Ball, N.D. — While the court has rejected a preliminary effort to stop construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, critical legal components of the case have just begun.

“Trump and his friends at Big Oil have not won. Today’s ruling does not hurt the strength of our legal arguments challenging the illegal easement approved by the Trump administration,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “While this preliminary ruling is disappointing, it’s not surprising. It is very difficult to get an injunction in a case like this. The bigger legal battle is ahead – we stand strong.”

The Tribe has challenged the DAPL easement on two main grounds. They include:

  • A full environmental impact statement (“EIS”) before any permit can be issued as required by law. The Obama administration agreed with the Tribe and granted a decision late last year to initiate an EIS that received hundreds of thousands of comments.
  • Careful consideration of the Tribe’s treaties before a permit is issued by a government agency. Again, the Obama administration agreed with the Tribe on this point. Standing Rock has a treaty right to clean and safe water in Lake Oahe.

A ruling on these key issues is not expected until April.

“The Trump administration’s issuance of the easement violates both of these legal requirements. If the pipeline goes into operation before then, it should not affect the legal proceeding,” said Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the Tribe. “If the judge rules that the permits are illegal, he can shut the pipeline operation down.”



Chelsea Hawkins

Sue Evans