The ruling by a federal judge last week that the Dakota Access Pipeline must shut down until a detailed environmental study is finished has set off North Dakota Republicans again, who are upset that the courts upheld a law.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: For the political party that touts "law and order" as a campaign slogan, it sure doesn't seem like it has much respect for actual law and order.
Instead, the NDGOP and its predictable media allies are busy trashing U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg as an activist liberal (he's not). They are busy lamenting that citizens can use the courts to make sure the law is followed (the horror).
And, of course, they are busy decrying "burdensome" government regulations that, in their view, make it just about impossible for oil companies to make a dime in profit (before a drop in demand wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, oil and gas companies saw record profits for more than a decade).
This has long been a talking point of the right — that onerous "regulations," enacted and enforced by pointy-headed bureaucrats with a radical environmental agenda, act as a boot on the the throat of righteous oil companies whose only goal is to make a few dollars and provide jobs for hard-working American families.
If only this country could clear out the regulatory quicksand, the disadvantaged oil companies could finally get around to being profitable.
It's quite a fantastical pity party.
It's also ... what's the proper verbiage ... a heaping pile of bovine waste matter.
The issue in the DAPL case couldn't be clearer:
The judge reviewed the matter and decided the permit to build the pipeline was illegal. It broke the law. It was unlawful. It was illegitimate. It was verboten.
The judge ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke the law by allowing construction of the pipeline to go forward without an environmental impact study. So he ordered an environmental impact study so DAPL comports to the law.
There was no activist bureaucrat finding an obscure regulation and applying it willy-nilly at his own discretion. It was a federal judge making a ruling on a lawsuit that's been in the court system for four years.
The judge's ruling was based on the National Environmental Policy Act, a law signed by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970. It was passed overwhelmingly by Congress the year prior. Its purpose was not only to protect the environment, but minority populations that are disproportionately negatively affected by infrastructure projects.
Hmm. Seems relevant.
The Corps broke the law. A judge ruled the Corps must follow the law.
It matters not that the pipeline has been operating for three years. It's an illegal pipeline, as things stand today.
Seems simple enough, but simple isn't spicy enough for those who prefer conspiracy theories about liberal bureaucrats and their burdensome regulations.
It's almost like Republicans are looking for ways to break the law, by dismissing longtime settled law as nothing more than a nettlesome rule.