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Demand a robust environmental impact statement for DAPL

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What’s At Stake

Despite several victories, the fight to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) continues. After many years in court, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Earthjustice were able to get a court to order the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This is what we’ve wanted — for the Corps to adequately consider the environmental impacts of DAPL — but there’s no guarantee the Corps will partner with the Tribe in a manner necessary to adequately consider DAPL’s impact. This is where you come in. The Corps is starting what’s known as a “scoping phase” — a period where they will take the public’s comment about what impacts should be included in the EIS. We need you to urge the Corps to work with the Tribe to ensure the EIS is comprehensive and respects the Tribe’s sovereignty.

This scoping phase could make or break the EIS. First, it will tell us whether or not the Corps is willing to engage the Tribe as equal partners and respect their long established treaty rights — something that should have been done from the outset. Second, a successful scoping phase could lead the Corps to study the climate impacts of oil flowing through DAPL, the safety hazards posed by the pipeline, or alternative routes for the pipeline that don’t threaten the Tribe. However, none of this can happen if we don’t show overwhelming support for a robust EIS in the public comment period.

Why is the EIS important? Because as of now DAPL has no permit to operate, and the decision about whether to grant them one will be based on the EIS.  An EIS that fully considers the risks of this project and honors the rights of the Tribe will help build our case for the permit to be denied.

This is why we must push and fight. DAPL was built on stolen land considered sacred by the Tribe — it never should have been built in the first place. Please join us in telling the Corps to chart a new course by conducting a comprehensive EIS that respects the Tribe’s sovereignty.

Flags fly at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in 2016, near Cannonball, North Dakota.
Lucas Zhao / CC BY-NC 2.0

Flags fly at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in 2016, near Cannonball, North Dakota.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.