Last week a judge ruled that construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline may proceed, with the exception of an area in North Dakota.

In the ruling, the judge noted that “the United States’ relationship with the Indian tribes has been contentious and tragic,” however it is believed that the Army Corps “likely complied” with its obligation to consult the tribe, adding that the tribe “has not shown it will suffer injury that would be prevented by any injunction the Court could issue.”

The Justice Department, the Department of the Army and the Interior Department then announced “The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.”

An article published on, “Understanding the Controversy Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline,” provides a brief overview of the debate.

American Indian Law Restatement Reporter Matthew L.M. Fletcher wrote a commentary in Law360, “The Right Side Of History: Obama’s Administration And DAPL,” that you can read in full on Turtle Talk.

Many articles exploring the issues of the pipeline were published leading up to the ruling.  David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, published an op-ed in The New York Times titled “Taking a Stand at Standing Rock.” (Subscription may be required.) The Atlantic recently published the piece “The Legal Case for Blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline.”


Jennifer Morinigo

The American Law Institute


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