Army Corps halts work near Sioux tribe despite judge's order

A federal judge on Friday denied an attempt by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop construction of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline near their North Dakota reservation, saying the tribe hadn't adequately shown the project will destroy "sites of cultural and historical significance," according to USA TODAY.

But the Justice Department stepped in, saying U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would not authorize building the pipeline on Corps land until it reviews environmental issues surrounding the project.

The tribe had challenged the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits at more than 200 water crossings for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.8 billion pipeline, saying the project violates several federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act, and will harm water supplies. The tribe also says ancient sacred sites have been disturbed.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington on Friday denied the tribe’s request for a temporary injunction. He ordered the parties to appear for a status conference Sept. 16.

In a lengthy ruling, the judge noted that since the USA's founding, its relationship with Indian tribes "has been contentious and tragic. America’s expansionist impulse in its formative years led to the removal and relocation of many tribes, often by treaty but also by force.”

Boasberg said he “does not lightly countenance any depredation of lands that hold significance to the Standing Rock Sioux” and that, given the federal government’s history with the tribe, “the Court scrutinizes the permitting process here with particular care."

But he concluded that the tribe "has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here.” The judge said he would issue an order denying the tribe's motion for a preliminary injunction.


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