The immediate fate of the Dakota Access Pipeline is at stake on Friday, as the Biden administration decides whether to intervene to shut operations down at the North Dakota pipeline for months while it conducts an environmental review. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to tell the U.S. District Court of Appeals in D.C. whether it will revoke the pipeline’s permit to operate under a Mississippi River aquifer that serves as a water source to the Standing Rock Reservation. In January, the court ruled the Trump administration had not conducted a thorough enough environmental review when it granted a 2017 easement allowing the pipeline’s construction, but reversed a lower court decision revoking its permit, allowing it to continue operations while a more thorough review took place. The Army Corps was expected to make a decision by Feb. 10, but the court granted the next administration an extension.
President Biden has been under increasing pressure from Indigenous peoples, activists and some Democratic lawmakers to unilaterally cancel the project – as he did with the Keystone XL pipeline upon taking office – as well as the Line 3 pipeline project in Minnesota. Indigenous youth held a rally in Washington last week to protest the pipelines, which pose catastrophic risks to tribal land and water and violate treaty rights. (Reuters, The Hill)