Chair Grijalva Leads Bicameral Amicus Brief Urging District Court to Halt Dakota Access Pipeline Operation Until Tribal, Environmental Impacts Assessed

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today led the filing of an amicus brief with 36 House and Senate colleagues in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia urging the court to halt operation of the nearly 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). As detailed in the amicus, available online at https://bit.ly/3bPBDhB, the lawmakers believe the pipeline must not be allowed to continue operations until the government analyzes the potentially disastrous effects on the environment and nearby tribal communities.

The DAPL is designed to transport 570,000 barrels of fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois each day, pending the completion of a court-mandated assessment of its environmental impacts. Today’s amicus brief outlines the many legal reasons the court should shut down the pipeline until the Army Corps of Engineers completes a formal Environmental Impact Statement on allowing the project to continue operating.

On Feb. 7, 2017, the Corps granted an easement authorizing DAPL to cross the Missouri River near the Lake Oahe reservoir, an important resource to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The decision was made shortly after President Trump instructed federal officials, just a few days into his term, to “review and approve [the DAPL] in an expedited manner….” Oil began flowing on March 27 that same year.

Later in 2017, a federal court held that the Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to adequately evaluate the DAPL’s environmental consequences. However, the court did not halt DAPL operations while the Corps reevaluated the project.

Earlier this year, the court again found that the Corps violated NEPA and ordered the Corps to produce an environmental impact statement (EIS), which the agency has yet to complete.

The question now is whether the court should shut down the pipeline until the EIS is done. The amicus brief filed today argues that it absolutely must do so, based on two main arguments:

  1. Allowing the pipeline to continue while the Corps continues work on the EIS turns NEPA on its head and destroys its central legislative purpose, which is to require agencies to evaluate environmental consequences before taking an action that could have serious, irreversible effects.
  2. Allowing the pipeline to continue severely undermines affected Tribes’ treaty rights and sovereignty.

A ruling is expected this summer. A list of cosigners by chamber is included below.

House of Representatives

Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.)

Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.)

Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon)

Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)

Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.)

Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.)

Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.)

Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.)

Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.)

Deb Haaland (D-N.M.)

Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.)

Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.)      

Jared Huffman (D-Calif.)

Mike Levin (D-Calif.)

Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.)

Betty McCollum (D-Minn.)

A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.)

James P. McGovern (D-Mass.)

Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.)

Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.)

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)

Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)

Gregorio Sablan (D-CNMI)

José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.)

Darren Soto (D-Fla.)

Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)

Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.)


Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

Tom Carper (D-Del.)

Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)

Press Contact

Media Contact: Adam Sarvana

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