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By Chris White
Two of the tribes opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline dropped their lawsuit against the multi-billion-dollar oil project.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Standing Rock Sioux gave up their legal battle preventing construction on the so-called DAPL. They appealed a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision in March essentially allowing the project to go forward despite concerns from either tribe.
Attorneys for Cheyenne River submitted a motion in late April to voluntarily dismiss the tribe’s claims in the appeals court, and the motion was granted Monday. The 1,200-mile-long oil pipeline is set to begin shuttling hundreds of thousands of barrels of Bakken oil from the Dakotas to Illinois.
Oil begins flowing commercially on June 1, according to a statement Thursday from Energy Transfer Partners. Cheyenne and Standing Rock will instead concentrate on a court case targeting the pipeline’s commercial use.
The DAPL drew the ire of out-of-state protesters and Standing Rock, whose members sued to block completion of a small section of the line near the reservation. Activists believe the pipeline’s construction trampled on tribal lands and could poison the tribe’s waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
Former President Barack Obama rejected the previously approved pipeline last December through the Army Corps of Engineers. He argued at the time that the route needed further environmental reviews and assessments before construction could proceed.
Obama’s directive didn’t last long. President Donald Trump eventually issued orders approving the DAPL in January, resulting in a cascade of lawsuits by tribes suggesting the president violated federal law by denying proper review of environmental and religious rights issues surrounding the contentious project.