A U.S. District Court judge on Monday denied a restraining order that would have temporarily halted work on the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline.
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.
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.
Construction began last week after Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas, received the last easement it needed from the Trump Administration to complete the final phase of the more than 1,100 mile-long pipeline, drilling under the Missouri River. They added a religious freedom component to their case last week by arguing that clean water is necessary to practice the Sioux religion. The case is Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. District Court for the District of Washington, D.C., No. 16-1534.
"The mere presence of the oil in the pipeline renders the waters religiously impure", Cheyenne River Sioux lawyer Nicole Ducheneaux said Monday. 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.
The goal of Monday's hearing was to convince Judge Boasberg to block the continued construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline with a temporary restraining order on the religious grounds cited above.
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Iron Eyes is helping lead opposition to the pipeline, which would move North Dakota oil to IL.
Boasberg said he wanted to rule on that request before oil was actually flowing through the pipeline.
Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline have yet to publicly comment on Monday's decision, or if protesters will continue attempts to remain at their camps if the Army attempts to remove them later this month. The Army Corps of Engineers on February 8 granted the approvals needed for construction to continue, in the form of an easement to go through federal lands.
While the company has "the greatest respect for the religious beliefs and traditions of Cheyenne River and the other tribes", there is no need for a restraining order to protect those interests, Scherman wrote.
A quick court hearing proved that those concerned about the ability to secure a restraining order in the Dakota Access Pipeline case were right to be anxious. Cultural sites also are jeopardized by construction, the tribe has warned.