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Judge Refuses to Halt Pipeline Construction During Lawsuit to Stop It

February 14, 2017

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.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, in Washington, D.C., issued his ruling Monday. He says he’ll consider the request more thoroughly at a Feb. 27 hearing.

The Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux requested the temporary injunction last week after Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners got federal permission to lay pipe under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota. 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 Illinois.

American Indian activist Chase Iron Eyes says he’s not deterred by a judge’s ruling. He says opponents will continue fighting the project in the courts and pushing for more environmental study of the Lake Oahe crossing.

The tribes say the pipeline would endanger their cultural sites and water supply. They added a religious freedom component to their case last week by arguing that clean water is necessary to practice the Sioux religion. Iron Eyes says opponents will maintain an on-the-ground presence in the drilling area, “peacefully and prayerfully.”

There have been more than 700 arrests in the area since August.

The company called the religion argument a “last-minute delay tactic.”

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