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Biden needs to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline

Delivery to President Biden

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What’s At Stake

Update, 5/2/2021: In a status report filed in response to a federal judge’s request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers state its position on a possible injunction shutting down the Dakota Access Pipeline, the agency reaffirmed its opposition to a shutdown. The answer puts the Biden administration on record as not merely taking no action to shut down the pipeline, but actively opposing taking the line out of operation due to health, safety and environmental concerns while impacts are adequately evaluated. Learn more here.

The Biden administration has said it will not take immediate action to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline while the government conducts a court-ordered environmental review of the pipeline, therefore allowing oil to continue flowing through the Tribe’s ancestral land and water supply. Although President Joe Biden recently announced intentions to improve Tribal consultation and take bold action to tackle climate change, his administration took a stance that is identical to that of former President Trump. The fight is not over. Urge the Biden administration to do the right thing and permanently shut the pipeline down after the environmental review is completed.

After the Environmental Impact Statement is completed, the pipeline will either receive or be denied permits to continue operating.

The administration’s lack of urgency is concerning as the pipeline’s continued operation is an affront to the Tribe’s sovereignty and safety. An oil spill could poison the Tribe’s drinking water, and millions downstream face a similar risk. The pipeline was built through the Tribe’s unceded ancestral lands, without its consent, and construction decimated their sacred sites.

It’ll be impossible to transition away from fossil fuels or show the rest of the world that the United States is serious about tackling climate change if we are just going to shrug and look away when the fossil fuel industry brazenly ignores Tribal concerns and tramples our federal environmental laws and safety regulations. We cannot restore U.S. climate leadership if we allow for longstanding environmental injustices to continue at home.

The Biden administration’s refusal to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for threatening the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water is deeply troubling, but the Tribe is going to continue fighting this. Act in solidarity with the Tribe by telling the Biden administration that the pipeline — and all existing and future pipelines — need to be shut down.

Photo of an Indigenous activist with fist raised in the air before a sign that reads "President Biden, build back fossil free."
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

On April 1, 2021, activists with the Indigenous Environmental Network organized a rally in Washington, D.C., calling on President Biden to 'Build Back Fossil Free' by stopping the Dakota Access, Line 3, and Line 5 pipelines.

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.)

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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.