Then & Now: Dakota Access Pipeline

July 17, 2020

In 2016, we shared a story about a pipeline that was being constructed to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois. Not everyone was in favor of this pipeline, most notably Native American tribes. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other Native American tribes joined together to protest the building of the pipeline. And for good reason—the path of the pipeline would disturb sacred land, and if anything should go wrong with the pipe, it would contaminate the reservation’s drinking water.

A pipeline installation between farms, as seen from 50th Avenue in New Salem, North Dakota. Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Despite the continued protests, in 2017 President Trump issued an executive order to expedite the review of the pipeline. By June of that year, the pipeline had been constructed and oil started flowing from North Dakota to Illinois. The tribes, however, did not give up and took their fight to a federal court. Earlier this month, US District Judge James Boasberg ordered the Army Corps of Engineers (the company who constructed the pipeline) to stop oil from flowing through the pipeline until an environmental review of the pipeline was complete. Since the ruling, two energy companies have canceled their plans for an Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, pointing to concerns over possible lawsuits as the reason.

What will happen with the pipeline after the environmental review? We’ll just have to wait and see.