A district court ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline must be shut down by 5 August to allow for an extensive environmental review.
The US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled it would vacate an easement that the US Army Corps of Engineers granted to Dakota Access for the construction of a pipeline beneath Lake Oahe in North and South Dakota.
This is the court’s second ruling against the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the project. Previously, the court ruled that the organisation was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act by granting the easement without producing an Environmental Impact Statement.
The Dakota Access Pipeline project prompted extensive protests from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as well as environmental activists, who feared the pipeline project would pose a major ecological risk to the region it passed through.
The ruling is a major victory for the groups that opposed the pipeline, and a notable setback for President Donald Trump, who attempted to expedite the project by using his executive leverage to cut through environmental red tape.
Mike Faith, the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, issued a statement celebrating the ruling.
“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” Mr Faith said. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”
The Standing Rock Sioux sued the Army Corps of Engineers in 2016, claiming they were never consulted regarding the pipeline and that the US government was in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company that owns the pipeline, said it intends to challenge the decision in court.
“We believe that the ruling issued this morning from Judge Boasberg is not supported by the law or the facts of the case. We will be immediately pursuing all available legal and administrative processes and are confident that once the law and full record are fully considered Dakota Access Pipeline will not be shut down and that oil will continue to flow,” a statement from the company said.
The company has close ties to Mr Trump. The CEO of the company, Kelcy Warren, held a fundraiser for the president last month, and former energy secretary Rick Perry rejoined the company’s board shortly after leaving the Cabinet.
The Trump administration was similarly displeased with the court’s ruling.
US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette issued a statement suggesting the US government and Energy Transfer Partners — which made $3.6bn in profit in 2019 — are the underdogs in the fight against bullying environmental activists and Native Americans.
“It’s disappointing that, once again, an energy infrastructure project that provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic revenue has been shut down by the well-funded environmental lobby, using our Nation’s court system to further their agenda,” Mr Brouillette said.