Indigenous activists rally outside Federal court status hearing for potential DAPL shutdown

On the 21st of June, Judge Boasberg held a status hearing in the Federal courthouse on Const Ave for the ongoing case between the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Standing Rock Sioux concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline. This was to set a schedule to determine remedies for what he held last week to be the unlawful bypass by Donald Trump of normal pipeline approval processes. As the hearing went on, the activists from a number of groups held a solidarity rally outside the courthouse

The rally included members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Rising Hearts Coalition.

During the rally, several speakers stressed that the DC government and Mayor Bowser also have a role to play. Rev Yearwood stressed that Mayor Bowser is not exercising “climate leadership” by supporting the Paris Climate Agreement on Monday but doing business as usual with Wells Fargo and other pipeline profiteers the rest of the week.Wells Fargo is one of the biggest funders of both the Dakota Access fracked oil Pipeline and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Judge Boasberg has already ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers unlawfully granted the permit at the request of Donald Trump. (TrumpOcO?) Today’s status hearing was to set a court date in September to determine remedies. The usual remedy for a permit granted in violation of the underlying law is to vacate the permit. This would leave Energy Transfer Partners with no permit and no legal way to operate the pipeline. That means the DAPL would shut down until and unless Energy Transfer could get a permit within the law. That would mean addressing such concerns as the effects of oil spills on those downstream such as the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux reservations. Doubtful they can get a permit under those requirements.

Last week’s ruling held that the failure of the corps of engineers to consider risks of an oil spill was illegal. The ruling also held that limiting environmental consideration to the lake itself and immediate area of the pipeline and not downstream was a violation of environmental justice laws. Apparently the interests of “7 white men and some cows” near the pipeline were considered but not those of anyone downstream. Downstream includes both the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux reservations. This portion of the judge’s findings is a breakthrough ruling.

Now the question of remedies must be decided. The normal remedy for a permit issued in violation of the relevant laws is to vacate the permit. If this occurs, Energy Transfer Partners will have no permit to operate the Dakota Access Pipeline and will have spent billions to construct a pipeline it will then be illegal to use. Some at the rally feared that Energy Transfer’s attorneys will manage to limit the remedy to monetary damages, rather like the money the US has been trying to pay the Lakota as “compensation” for seizing the Black Hills, money the tribe has refused to accept

Video from the rally ending with attorney reportback from court hearings

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