Update on Dakota Access Pipeline Litigation
The Dakota Access Pipeline litigation was originally brought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in 2016, quickly joined by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, to challenge construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (“DAPL”), and specifically DAPL’s crossing of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. In June 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Boasberg granted in part and denied in part the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes’ motions for summary judgment, and remanded certain issues to the Corps.1 On March 19, 2018, Judge Boasberg denied claims brought by the Yankton Sioux Tribe and Robert Flying Hawk, chairman of the Tribe’s Business and Claims Committee (“Tribe”).2 The court dismissed the Tribe’s National Historic Preservation Act claims as moot, given that DAPL’s construction has been completed. The court granted summary judgement in favor of the federal defendants on the Tribe’s treaty rights claim because the Tribe had essentially withdrawn that claim. Finally, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the federal defendants on the Tribe’s NEPA claim.3 The Tribe argued that the Corps violated NEPA by improperly segmenting its review by preparing three EAs and FONSIs.4 The court rejected this argument, in part, because “[e]ach of the EAs and FONSIs addresses geographically isolated crossings or easements, and there is no suggestion in the record that environmental impacts in one location would have repercussions for another.”5 The court concluded that the Corps’ EAs and FONSIs were “discrete analyses that address ecologically and geographically disparate areas of federal jurisdiction.”6 We will continue to provide updates as this litigation progresses.
1 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 255 F. Supp. 3d 101 (D.D.C. 2017).
2 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2018 WL 1385660 (D.D.C. Mar. 19, 2018).
3 Id. at *1.
4 Id. at *9.
5 Id. at *14.
6 Id. at *16.
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