A federal judge just threw a huge wrench into the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. He ruled that Trump’s administration didn’t follow proper environmental protocol when it overturned Obama’s ban and granted approval.
In case you’ve been in space for the last few years, here’s a quick rundown of the clusterfuck that is DAPL: the pipeline, which is a little over a thousand miles long, goes from North Dakota to the southern end of Illinois. At first, its route ran to the north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, but after concerns about water quality risks to Bismarck, North Dakota, plans changed. The new route was a big middle finger to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe–the pipeline was to go under the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, which just so happened to be sacred land that included burial sites. It’s also where their drinking water comes from.
Understandably, the tribe was livid. And when most of the rest of the country found out, they were too. Thousands of people descended on the area and set up a permanent camp. Protests blew up. Big oil cops fired water cannons at protesters, shot them with rubber bullets, and sprayed clouds of tear gas all over the place. Eventually, Obama stepped in and vetoed the plan because it was, to be frank, pretty fucking stupid. It was a huge victory; David beat the Big Oil Goliath. But then Trump happened, and in his quest to simultaneously gargle the balls of the oil industry and dismantle anything Obama built just for spite, he revived it. Rex Tillerson let him out of the dungeon for a little bit, gave him some chocolate cake, and patted his head. “Did I make you happy, daddy?” Trump asked in a whisper. “Almost, son. Almost,” Tillerson replied while tightening the straps on the ballgag shoved in Trump’s mouth.
That last part probably didn’t happen, but you get the idea. Now that you’re caught up, here’s the latest. Washington DC District Court Judge James Boasberg looked at what happened and said that the Corps “failed to adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on Standing Rock’s fishing and hunting rights and on environmental justice, and in February 2017, it did not sufficiently weigh the degree to which the project’s effects are likely to be highly controversial in light of critiques of its scientific methods and data.”
All that means, however, is that an environmental assessment of the pipeline needs to be done–which, as anyone who has worked in the oil industry knows–is generally a little biased. Oil is already flowing (and has already leaked) and construction doesn’t legally need to stop, but next week another court case could change that. The owners of DAPL are set to hit the legal octagon against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe because of the judge’s decision.
So while this latest decision isn’t much more than a gentle kick in the nuts to the Trump adminstration’s views on oil and the oil companies in general, it could potentially be a harbinger of what’s to come–and, as we all know, federal judges haven’t exactly made Trump’s life easier.