Activists defending Indigenous and environmental rights in the United States are celebrating three important wins in their long-running fight to stop pipelines funnelling oil and gas through sensitive tribal lands.
On July 6 a US federal judge ruled the Dakota Access Pipeline be shut down and emptied of oil, pending the outcome of an environmental review. It is a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Native American and environmental defenders who have sought to block the pipeline since 2016, and who argue that spills from the pipeline would contaminate rivers and groundwater. The pipeline operator is appealing the decision.
That same day, the US Supreme Court upheld an order placing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on hold for further regulation and an extended permitting process – a blow to US President Donald Trump, who used executive orders to help resurrect the once-abandoned project.
The Dakota Access and Keystone XL rulings came after Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced the cancellation of plans to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline between West Virginia and North Carolina. The companies say the high cost of fighting legal action swelled their costs, rendering the project unviable.
As energy firms struggle with depressed revenue amid a global coronavirus pandemic that has throttled demand for oil and gas, anti-pipeline activists seek to maximise their advantage. But they still face challenges, with the Supreme Court allowing other projects such as Jordan Cove and Line 3 to continue under a fast-track permit process.
We will meet three Indigenous and environmental rights voices in the vanguard of efforts to protect their lands from big energy. Join the conversation.
On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Joye Braun, @joyem_braun
Community Organiser, Indigenous Environmental Network
Jacqueline Keeler, @jfkeeler
Diné-Dakota journalist and author