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Bid to Halt Pipeline in Judge’s Hands as Tribes Make Final Plea

April 23, 2021, 9:39 PM

The Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, and other tribes made their final arguments Friday in favor of shutting down the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

“The Tribes have never denied that shutting down the pipeline would have impacts; however, they have emphasized that the profits of others should not come at the expense of the Tribes, especially when the law has not been followed,” they said in a brief to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The court is weighing whether to halt the embattled oil project due to an invalid federal easement while the Army Corps of Engineers conducts a court-ordered environmental review.

The issue is now fully briefed and ripe for a ruling from the district court. The Biden administration has declined to take enforcement action against the pipeline for now.

Dakota Access and its allies, including the oil-producing Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation, submitted final declarations earlier this week addressing the economic impacts that would accompany a shutdown.

“The Tribes decline to engage in another round of tit-for-tat of litigation experts, as the record is clear that closure of DAPL would involve modest and manageable impacts—as this Court has already found,” the tribes’ brief on Friday said in response.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected Dakota Access’ request for the full slate of active judges to reconsider a panel’s recent decision affirming the project’s easement violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

Dakota Access is now expected to push the NEPA issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s unclear whether such proceedings would interfere with the district court’s ability to issue a shutdown decision.

The case is Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. Army Corps of Engineers, D.D.C., No. 1:16-cv-01534, brief filed 4/23/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; Rebecca Baker at