Skip to Content

DAPL Ruling Favors Client of DU’s Environmental Law Clinic

•  
  •

For now, work has been halted on the Dakota Access Pipeline. On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revealed it would not approve an easement that would allow the proposed pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

Asst. Prof. Brad Bartlett
Asst. Prof. Brad Bartlett

The announcement was exactly what members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe and other Lakota and Dakota Nations have been waiting months to hear. The University of Denver’s Environmental Law Clinic at the Sturm College of Law represented the Yankton Sioux Nation against the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The Environmental Law Clinic’s client, the Yankton Sioux Nation, is very pleased with this decision and the excellent work performed by the students assigned to this case,” says Brad Bartlett, assistant professor in the Environmental Law Clinic.

The decision to explore alternate routes for the pipeline and to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement is the precise outcome DU’s clinic was seeking in a legal challenge.

Robert Flying Hawk
Robert Flying Hawk

“We envision a future that includes the protection of water, the need for free, prior and informed consent before decisions that affect treaty-protected and human rights; and the right to stand up for these rights,” says Robert Flying Hawk, chairman of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. “We are a step closer, and we thank those that stood in furtherance of this vision.”

If completed, the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline would connect North Dakota’s Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas to a crude oil terminal in Illinois. The proposed pipeline route would cross Lake Oahe and come within less than half a mile of reservation land. It was expected to transport about 500,000 barrels of oil per day.

This weekend’s ruling does not mean the matter is closed. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, could take legal action against the Army Corps of Engineers. Also, President-elect Donald Trump could seek to overturn the decision when he takes office next month. In the past, Trump, who holds stock in Energy Transfer Partners, has expressed support for completing the pipeline.