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Judge orders removal of gas pipeline on Native American land in Oklahoma

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In a main victory for American Indian land rights, a federal choose on Tuesday, ordered Enable Midstream Partners and its affiliates to remove a natural gasoline pipeline from 38 American Indian land proprietors’ belongings close to Anadarko, Oklahoma. A tract of the land is part of the Kiowa Tribes of Oklahoma.

The Order became entered these days inside the Davilla v. Enable Midstream Partners, L.P., et al., Case No. CIV-15-1262-M (Western District of Oklahoma) case. The 38 Native American land proprietors are represented through legal professionals David C. Smith, Dustin T. Greene, and Catherine F. Munson of Kilpatrick Townsend. Plaintiffs are enrolled contributors of the Comanche, Caddo, Apache, Cherokee, and Kiowa Tribes of Oklahoma.

Between 1980 and 2000, Enable operated the pipeline on Plaintiffs’ land pursuant to an easement granted to it by way of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”). The Court determined that Enable’s easement expired in 2000, but Enable persisted perform the pipeline without an easement, placing it in trespass and leading to the filing of Plaintiffs’ lawsuit.

On Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and for a Permanent Injunction, the Court found that “plaintiffs have objected to the renewal of the easement and defendants’ persevered use of the pipeline from the time defendants first sought the renewal of the easement,” and that Enable and its predecessor, Enogex, had didn’t follow any of the federal statutes below which they may have secured a valid easement.

The Court additionally cited that “on March 23, 2010, greater than 5 and a 1/2 years before the on the spot action become filed” the BIA told Enogex that “[i]f legitimate approval of a right of manner for this tract isn’t timely secured, Enogex ought to be directed to transport the pipeline off the concern property.” Yet, “defendants have done not anything to move the pipeline off the tract ….”

With the access of this Order, the simplest difficulty that remains inside the case is damages for Enable’s trespass since 2000. This decision marks a sizable victory for Native American land rights.

 

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