After hundreds were arrested during the Dakota Access pipeline protests five years ago, the struggle goes on. Signs of a weakened case for the Government emerge however, signaling the end could be real.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is still seeking the closure of the Dakota Access pipeline, which can carry roughly 550,000 barrels of oil daily from North Dakota’s shale region to the Midwest.
It is unclear whether President Joe Biden, who was sworn in last month, will seek to close the pipeline. A change in legal teams might shed light.
A judge in January revoked the line’s permit to operate under Lake Oahe, a water source for the Standing Rock tribe.
New in the case: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said two federal attorneys representing it in an ongoing legal battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline are withdrawing from the case, according to court filings, as opponents fight for the line’s closure.
The case is being closely watched by native groups and the energy industry, particularly after the Biden administration canceled a permit for the long-gestating Keystone XL project and has taken other steps to limit oil-and-gas exploration.
Jeffrey Clark Sr. and Eric Allen Grant, who represented the Army Corps, are withdrawing from the case between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Corps, the filing said.
Clark left the U.S. Justice Department at the end of former President Donald Trump’s term.
Clark was the assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ’s environment and natural resources division. He is currently being investigated by the department’s internal watchdog over whether he made an improper attempt to alter the results of the 2020 election, where Biden defeated Trump.
Jan Hasselman, an attorney who represents the tribe, says they hope the Biden administration will seek to close the line, but the departure of these attorneys should not necessarily be seen as a signal of that happening.
A judge for the U.S. district court for the District of Columbia granted the Corps’ request earlier this week to delay a hearing related to permits granted for the line’s operator, Energy Transfer LP, to April.