Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Department of Justice Move to Dismiss Dakota Access Lawsuit
On Friday, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., asking District Judge James Boasberg to throw out Dakota Access’s lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers. The Department of Justice, which represents the Corps, filed a similar motion.
The motions do not affect the lawsuit filed by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Corps permits, which are currently held in abeyance pending the recently initiated Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) process considering route alternatives.
After initially supporting the Army Corps against the Tribe’s earlier litigation about the pipeline, the company shifted its position to sue the Corps in November of 2016, arguing that it had all the permissions it required in order to complete the pipeline across Lake Oahe. The lawsuit came as a surprise, as the company had previously acknowledged that it still required a real estate easement — that has not yet been granted — before finalizing construction. The lawsuit came after the Corps announced on December 4, 2016, that it would prepare an EIS considering both the Tribe’s treaty rights and route alternatives to the Lake Oahe crossing.
In its motion to the Court asking it to dismiss the company’s lawsuit, the Tribe explained how the Corps has not, and could not have, issued the easement yet. It also explained how the Corps’ decision to provide a full EIS on route alternatives for the pipeline was legally required and appropriate in light of the history of the Sioux.
“The Dakota Access corporation's lawsuit is a desperate attempt to bully the government into getting the easement and violating Standing Rock’s rights,” said Dave Archambault II, Standing Rock Chairman. “It will not succeed. We look forward to working with the Corps on an EIS that fully takes into account our history and our rights, and are confident that the easement at Lake Oahe will ultimately be denied.”
Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 1025