A civil-liberties and human-rights organization out of Oregon has filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking an injunction against current plans to transport crude oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“There was such an obvious need for a lawsuit,” said Executive Director of RevolutionTruth Tangerine Bolen. “This case is a really clear case of racial discrimination. This is the most dangerous route possible for this pipeline, environmentally-speaking. It should not have been routed onto these sacred treaty lands. And it certainly should not be going under a lake.”
The organization was founded by Bolen in 2010. It began as a video project supporting the right to publish information provided by whistleblowers. Since that time, though, the organization has been conducting what she calls “legal campaigns” – a combination of lawsuits and grassroots activism.
“We basically sue either governments or corporations that are breaking the law and abusing powers,” Bolen said. “And right now, we’re suing President Trump to stop this pipeline.”
The lawsuit, Jumping Eagle v. Trump was filed on behalf of tribal members from four Sioux tribes. It has joined action already taken by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux. They too have been aimed at stopping oil from flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline and under Lake Oahe, the tribe’s primary source of water.
“There are only three lawsuits left standing to stop this pipeline,” said Bolen. “And ours is one of them. Ours is different from the other ones. We’re actually suing Trump personally. And we’re suing the Army Corps as well. Both of them have broken the law. So we’re trying to reverse course on that. And we’re also suing Energy Transfer Partners, of course.”
In their claim, Bolen and her legal team have asserted that Trump violated federal law by ordering the Army Corps to grant an easement that allowed Dakota Access to drill under Lake Oahe. Bolen said that the Army Corps was put in place as an independent agency and should not be swayed by presidential power.
“We are suing on administrative lawbreaking,” Bolen said. “Basically Trump broke the law when he directed the Army Corps to reverse course on the easement. The Army Corps is an independent, expert agency. And Trump did not provide any evidentiary basis for demanding that the Army Corps reverse course. So that’s illegal.”
However, the Army Corps still obeyed. And just two weeks after the order was signed, the agency notified Congress that the easement would be granted.
“It’s absolutely astonishing,” Bolen said. “And it will endanger the water supply for between 17 and 20 million people.”
The pipeline was completed soon after the easement was granted, and has been scheduled to go into service on May 14. Crude oil has already been filling inside of it, waiting to traverse treaty land once entrusted to the Sioux people.
“These are sovereign nations,” Bolen said, “and we’ve stolen their lands. And now, we’re about to ruin their water supply.”
But Bolen said that, just because the pipeline has been completed, does not mean that the oil within it cannot be stopped from flowing. She expressed high hopes of winning the lawsuit.
“We’re going to stop it,” Bolen said. “It may be the twelfth hour, and we may be David and Goliath. But David brought down Goliath with a slingshot. So…”
The judge has not yet scheduled a hearing to discuss the matter.