Dakota Access gets green light from court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Saturday rejected an emergency request from two native American tribes attempting to stop oil from flowing through the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL).

As a result of the court ruling, the dangerous oil pipeline could begin could begin operating tomorrow, despite protests at the pipeline site in North Dakota, near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, that has drawn international attention.

The three judge panel rejected the request because the native Americans “have not satisfied the stringent requirements for issuance of an injunction pending appeal.”

The native American tribes were appealing a decision to allow construction of the pipeline and seeking to halt any oil flow until that issue was finally resolved.

In a concurring opinion, one judge noted that the denial was due to the fact that the emergency request was based upon the tribes’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) claim, which has not yet been accepted as an issue in the litigation.

To grant an injunction under those procedural facts, the judge said, would require a showing that to not grant the RFRA claim would be, as a matter of law, an abuse of discretion by the court – a burden, he contends, which has not been met.

The US District Court for the District of Columbia denied the initial request on March 14, 2017.

In January President Donald Trump signed an executive order that allowed for construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

On March 8, 2017, a lawsuit attempting to stop the construction of the pipeline on the basis that it would prevent a native american tribe from practicing religious ceremonies was rejected by the district court.

The pipeline that would transport more than 470,000 barrels of Bakken shale oil per day over its 1,172 mile length through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

The controversy surrounding the project is connected with its proximity to multiple large bodies of water, which could become irreparably contaminated should the pipeline fail.

The application of ‘fracking’ or hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies have caused a boom in Bakken oil production since 2000. By the end of 2010, oil production rates had reached 458,000 barrels per day, thereby outstripping the pipeline capacity to ship oil out of the region.

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