Federal Judge: Public HAS No Right To Know About Dakota Pipeline Spill Risks

Energy Transfer Partners previously argued in court that keeping such information private was essential, as it could be “useful to vandals and terrorists” or others “with malicious intent to damage the pipeline.”

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux indigenous American tribes, whose primary water sources are directly threatened by the pipeline, have argued that the disclosure of such information is essential, as it would strengthen their call for a more extensive environmental review of the project.

Boasberg rejected the tribes’ arguments, stating “the asserted interest in limiting intentionally inflicted harm outweighs the tribes’ generalized interests in public disclosure and scrutiny,” despite that fact that pipeline safety experts have repeatedly found the environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline to have been “seriously deficient.”

This latest court case mirrors the back-and-forth that took place between Energy Transfer Partners and indigenous tribes last year, resulting in an intense public protest where indigenous people were supported by environmental and social justice groups.

Encampments were formed in areas where the pipeline was set to cross under the Missouri River, with the intention of preventing the pipeline’s full completion and forcing the company to reroute the pipeline around the primary water source for the Sioux and millions of others who rely on the river for drinking water.


These camps united the tribes, military veterans and foreign activists, but were met with opposition by private security officers hired by Energy Transfer Partners, as well as state police. By the time this latest court hearing was under way, 750 anti-pipeline protesters had been arrested.

Despite the words of politicians and assurances from Energy Transfer Partners, oil spills in North Dakota are commonplace, with the Center for Biological Diversity estimating that the state has averaged around four major pipeline spills annually since 1996. This latest ruling is set to create even more risks for those who stand to lose the most in the event of more spills.

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