A full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was ordered in that case, National Parks Conservation Association v. Semonite. This is considered a blockbuster decision that has broad implications for tribes nationwide. This case wholly recognized that federally recognized tribal nations have a right to full consultation during the preparation of the EIS. It was also taken into account that Indigenous nations feel the Corps does not take their concerns seriously and will issue a permit without fully considering the available project alternatives or a project’s impact on tribal heritage, culture, resources, or religious practices. Citing Semonite, Boasberg has ordered that the Corps prepare an EIS. In his 48-page opinion, the jurist concluded that “too many questions remain unanswered.” But, while his decision is laudable, Boasberg has left a major question unanswered: Will oil continue to flow through the pipeline in the meantime? It has been in service since June 2016, and this matter is key. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but, this where we need to beware. Every single day, this infamous pipeline sends 500,000 barrels of oil across tribal lands.
In a major victory for tribal nations that have fought the Dakota Access Pipeline through two presidential administrations, a federal judge ordered a full environmental review of the controversial project. #NoDAPL #NativeNationsRise #HonorTheTreaties https://t.co/MW9if87RBq— indianz.com (@indianz) March 25, 2020
Boasberg has ordered representatives of the opposing parties in the case to present briefs on the issue of whether the easement should be vacated (meaning the oil should stop flowing) while the Corps completes its EIS. The vacating of such an easement that violates NEPA standards is said, even by Boasberg, to be the “standard remedy.” Keep in mind, a full environmental review by the Corps could take years. The Corps could drag its feet. Will Boasberg follow the law or, to use an old mainstream axiom, just give the much aggrieved Indigenous nations the proverbial “half loaf of bread”? The issue now before the court is: Will the pipeline be shut down while the EIS is being prepared? In the past, Boasberg has moved with glacial slowness. Previously, this journalist has with scathing criticism referred to Judge Boasberg in very unflattering terms. It remains to be seen whether this jurist will rise to the occasion and render the real justice so long sought by tribal nations in this Herculean struggle or simply award this decision as a palliative to Indigenous people so long victimized by the corporate plutocracy of capitalist America. Will oil continue to flow ad infinitum across tribal lands in violation of all morality and law? The oil must stop flowing!
Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He was an organizer and delegate to the First and Second Intercontinental Indian Conferences held in Quito, Ecuador and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Recently, he has been an active participant and reporter in the Standing Rock struggle in North Dakota. He is an attorney and is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty. He is also writing a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war of the late 20th century. He is also the recipient of several Eagle Awards by the Tennessee Native American Eagle Organization and a former Director of Native American Legal Departments and a Tribal Public Defender.
This article originally appeared on People's World. It is published under a Creative Commons license.