Judge Won't Halt Dakota Access Pipeline Construction

A Native American tribe argued that the pipeline would desecrate water used in religious ceremonies.

A federal judge on Monday rejected requests from Native American tribes to suspend construction on the final section of the Dakota Access PipelineReuters reports.

U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg’s ruling allows Energy Transfer Partners to work on a crossing beneath a North Dakota reservoir while there are ongoing lawsuits against the oil project by Native American tribes. 

In rejecting the request for a temporary restraining order, the judge said the tribes failed to show that the pipeline posed immediate, irreparable harm, according to BuzzFeed. Boasberg will consider the request to freeze work again at a Feb. 27 hearing, the Associated Press reported. 

“We’re disappointed with today’s ruling denying a temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we are not surprised. We know this fight is far from over,” Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and attorney with the Lakota People’s Law Project, said in a statement. 

The United States Army Corps of Engineers had given Energy Transfer Partners permission last week to work on this section near the Lake Oahe reservoir. The easement granted by the Army Corps allows the developer to finish building the 1,172-mile pipeline carrying crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

The project has for months been mired in protests, as well as conflicting court rulings and actions by former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump

The Standing Rock Sioux have been at the center of the challenge to stop the pipeline. They say it may contaminate their drinking water, has disturbed sites of tribal heritage and violates the terms of an 1851 treaty with the federal government. 

But Boasberg’s order was in response to an argument presented by the Cheyenne River Sioux, who have a reservation adjacent to the Standing Rock. 

The tribe said in court papers that the restraining order was necessary because the pipeline, even if it doesn’t leak, would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by desecrating water used in religious ceremonies.

“The people in the camps expected this to happen, because the law does not work in their favor. Historically, it has not,” said Anthony Diggs, 31, a Marine veteran who is working with the Cheyenne River tribe as part of a group called Veterans Stand. 

The Corps argued in its filing that a restraining order was unwarranted because the tribes have time to continue with lawsuits before oil flows in the pipeline, The Associated Press reported.

But at Monday’s hearing, a lawyer for the developer said the Lake Oahe section could be completed in 30 days or less.

An Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman declined to comment to HuffPost on Boasberg’s decision. 

This article has been updated with details about and responses to the ruling. 



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