The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit on July 27, 2016, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and the case, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, was assigned to Judge James E. Boasberg, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia District, Case No. 1:2016cv01534.
On August 4, the tribe filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the project, and Judge Boasberg set the preliminary injunction for hearing today, September 9. In the interim, the tribe filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on September 4 because of events that occurred at the end of August and the first few days in September.
In the TRO, the tribe sought to enjoin Dakota Access from any additional work at the site west of Highway 1806 that was cleared on September 3, stop any additional work on the pipeline within 20 miles in either direction of Lake Oahe and stop antagonizing peaceful protestors.
The TRO was granted in part and denied in part. On September 8, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe joined the case as a plaintiff and filed a First Amended Complaint seeking to enjoin further construction of the pipeline. In the ruling today, Judge Boasberg denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to stop work on the four-state Dakota Access pipeline.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 9, 2016
Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued the following statement regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain. Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.
The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.
Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities. The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.
In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.