Judge denies tribes' request to halt Dakota Access pipeline work

14 February, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • Activists participate in an art project conceived by Cannupa Hunska Luger from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux argue the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites. Further, the Standing Rock Sioux (who have led the headline-grabbing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline for almost a year) claim that installing the pipeline has damaged and even destroyed ancient sacred sites, including burial grounds.

According to a lawyer for the tribe, the presence of oil would desecrate the waters of Lake Oahe, which the tribe uses in religious ceremonies. The tribes also say it threatens their freedom of religion, which depends on pure water.

A judge has rejected a request by two American Indian tribes to halt construction of the remaining section of the Dakota Access oil pipeline until their lawsuit over the project is resolved.

Last week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave Energy Transfer Partners LP, the company building the 1,170 mile pipeline a final easement to build the $3.8-billion pipeline.

As many as four other protest camps are being established on Standing Rock by the Cheyenne River Sioux bands. As one of his first acts as a new POTUS, Donald Trump signed an executive order giving the green-light to complete the multi-state project. Some have been here since April, their numbers fluctuating between hundreds and thousands, in an unprecedented show of joint resistance to the almost 1,200 mile-long Dakota Access oil pipeline. That's the last big section of the $3.8 billion pipeline that would need to be constructed before it could carry oil from North Dakota to IL.

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When the Army Corps granted Dakota Access the easement for the pipeline to cross federally-owned land at Land Oahe, it reversed a December decision under the Obama administration to withhold the permission pending completion of an environmental impact statement, a process that could have taken years.

Boasberg denied the order following Monday afternoon's hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., and required the pipeline company to provide updates February 21 and every Monday thereafter on when oil will begin to flow through the river-crossing pipe.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe, which has a separate case before Boasberg challenging the pipeline, filed papers on Monday saying it planned to resume briefing on an "expedited basis".

Boasberg said he wanted to rule on that request before oil was actually flowing through the pipeline.

Construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline has been stalled for months because of opposition by several Sioux tribes and a massive protest movement that sprung up around it.

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