UpDate…..Friday, A federal judge denied Standing Rock Sioux’s request to stop pipeline. Later, The DOJ put the project on hold.
Breaking: Justice Department, Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Army, Overrules Court, Dakota Access Pipeline Construction Halted.
(ANTIMEDIA) North Dakota — On Friday, a federal court sided with Energy Transfer Partners, allowing the company to continue construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline. The ruling came after the Standing Rock Sioux tribe attempted to halt the pipeline’s construction through the justice system because they claimed it would violate federal laws and jeopardize their water supply.
However, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Army quickly overruled the court’s decision, placing a temporary halt on Dakota Access pipeline construction on Army Corps of Engineering lands. Their statement says the decision will take effect until the Army “can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.”
The press release continued:
“Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”
This development comes on the heels of North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple’s decision to activate the state’s National Guard on Thursday, stoking fears that tensions on the ground could grow. Currently, Native American protesters, or “water protectors,” are staging a peaceful blockade against the pipeline’s construction.
The Justice Department statement’s language could be interpreted as a “voluntary” request to the pipeline builders, and it’s unclear whether Energy Transfer Partners will comply with the request.
Meanwhile, opposition on the ground to the Dakota Access pipeline continues to swell as thousands of water protectors continue to stream into the area to join the blockade. At this time it remains unclear how the addition of the National Guard, a flood of reinforcements to the protests, and the Justice Department’s statement will affect tensions on the ground.
As the agencies’ statement surprisingly asserted:
“In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”
Thank you Nick Bernabe & ANTIMEDIA.org
FROM ASSOCIATED PRESS:
North Dakota Tribe’s Request to Stop Work on Pipeline Denied
An American Indian tribe‘s attempt to halt construction of an oil pipeline near its North Dakota reservation failed in federal court Friday, but three government agencies asked the pipeline company to “voluntarily pause” work on a segment that tribal officials say holds sacred artifacts.
The Standing Rock Sioux, whose cause has drawn thousands to join their protest, had challenged the Army Corps of Engineers‘ decision to grant permits at more than 200 water crossings for the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. Tribal leaders say the project violates several federal laws and will harm water supplies. The tribe also alleges that ancient sites have been disturbed during construction.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington denied the tribe’s request for a temporary injunction in a 58-page opinion.
But a joint statement from the Army and the Departments of Justice and the Interior asked the pipeline builder, Energy Transfer Partners, to “voluntarily pause” work on the disputed segment while the government reconsiders “any of its previous decisions” on land that borders or is under Lake Oahe. The statement also said the case “highlighted the need for a serious discussion” about nationwide reforms “with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.”
Attorney Jan Hasselman with the environmental group Earthjustice, who filed the lawsuit in July on behalf of the tribe, said before the ruling that any such decision would be challenged.
“We will have to pursue our options with an appeal and hope that construction isn’t completed while that (appeal) process is going forward,” he said. “We will continue to pursue vindication of the tribe’s lawful rights even if the pipeline is complete.”
Tribal historian LaDonna Brave Bull Allard said the ruling gave her “a great amount of grief. My heart is hurting, but we will continue to stand, and we will look for other legal recourses.” She said the protests would continue.
Energy Transfer Partners officials did not return phone calls or emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The judge’s ruling said the court “does not lightly countenance any depredation of lands that hold significance” to the tribe and that, given the federal government’s history with the tribe, the court scrutinized the permitting process “with particular care.”
Nonetheless, the judge wrote, the tribe “has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here.”
Judith LeBlanc, a member of the Caddo Nation in Oklahoma and director of the New York-based Native Organizers Alliance, said before the decision was issued that she expected the protests to remain peaceful.
“There’s never been a coming together of tribes like this,” she said of Friday’s gathering of Native Americans. People came from as far as New York and Alaska, some bringing their families and children, and hundreds of tribal flags dotted the camp, along with American flags flown upside-down in protest.
At the state Capitol, pipeline protesters were happy to learn about federal authorities recommending that construction be halted. Several hundred people gathered on the lawn, braving a torrential downpour to sing, play drums and burn sage grass.
They pumped their firsts in the air and chanted, “I believe that we will win” and carried signs that read “Respect Our Water” and “Water Is Sacred.”
The judge’s order was announced over a loudspeaker at the protest camp near the reservation on North Dakota’s southern border. Protesters who did not make the trek to Bismarck said it was what they expected.
John Nelson of Portland, Oregon, came to the camp to support his grandson, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault. The 82-year-old says he was not surprised by the ruling, “but it still hurts.”
Archambault was scheduled to speak later Friday.
State authorities announced this week that law enforcement officers from across the state were being mobilized at the protest site, some National Guard members would work security at traffic checkpoints and another 100 would be on standby. The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association asked the Justice Department to send monitors to the site because it said racial profiling is occurring.
Nearly 40 people have been arrested since the protest began in April, including tribal chairman Dave Archambault II.
A week ago, protesters and construction workers clashed when, according to tribal officials, workers bulldozed sites on private land that the tribe says in court documents are “of great historic and cultural significance.” Energy Transfer Partners denied the allegations.
Four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured, officials said, while a tribal spokesman said six people — including a child — were bitten by the dogs and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.
The state’s Private Investigation and Security Board received complaints about the use of dogs and will look into whether the private security teams at the site are properly registered and licensed, board attorney Monte Rogneby said Friday, adding that he would not name the firms.
On Thursday, North Dakota’s archaeologist said that piece of private land was not previously surveyed by the state would be surveyed next week and that if artifacts are found, pipeline work still could cease.
The company plans to complete the pipeline this year. In court papers, it said stopping the project would cost $1.4 billion the first year, mostly due to lost revenue in hauling crude.
“Investor appetite for the project could shift and financing may no longer be available,” the company said. “Construction of the entire project would cease and the project itself would be jeopardized.”
A status conference in the Standing Rock Sioux’s lawsuit is scheduled for Sept. 16.
Thank you JAMES MACPHERSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS