Deferring Action on Pipeline Advanced by Trump, Biden Administration Leaves Communities Vulnerable

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today deferred to a federal court on whether to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) pending an environmental review, instead of asking the court to enjoin it.

The following is a statement by Anthony Swift, the Canada Project Director for NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council):

“The Standing Rock Sioux and other underserved communities need action now to protect their health and way of life.  This court has already deemed the environmental review on DAPL insufficient, and the science could not be more clear that we can’t afford to ‘lock in’ decades worth of carbon pollution.

“Dakota Access is one of several major pipelines Trump greenlighted without fully considering impacts to communities or the climate. The Biden Administration has expressed dedication to climate action and protecting vulnerable communities, so it’s a head-scratcher to see it now kicking the can down the road—especially when industry is moving forward at a clip.  

“The Biden Administration has a chance to reconsider federal permits for all of the major fossil fuel infrastructure Trump recklessly permitted without respect to its obligation under the National Environmental Protection Act to consider impacts to our communities, water, and climate.  A failure to act amounts to a decision to cement Trump’s legacy of radically expanding fossil fuel projects that will harm our communities and climate for decades to come.”


The Standing Rock Sioux tribe had asked a federal district court for an injunction and had asked the Biden administration to shut it down, arguing the pipeline, which spilled more than 33,000 gallons in its first year of operation, posed an imminent threat to the safety of its water supply. 

Meanwhile, several pipelines Trump approved—including the Line 3 tar sands pipeline, Line 5 oil pipeline, the Mountain Valley gas pipeline, and the Byhalia pipeline connection—are moving forward with permits granted or being considered without adequate federal review of their impacts to communities and climate.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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