Feds halt work on sec­tion of pipe­line de­spite rul­ing

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By James MacPher­son

NEARTHESTANDING ROCK SIOUX RESERVATION, N.D. — The fed­eral govern­ment stepped into the fight over the Dakota Ac­cess oil pipe­line Fri­day, or­der­ing work to stop on one seg­ment of the project in North Dakota and ask­ing the Texas-based com­pany build­ing it to “vol­un­tar­ily pause” ac­tion on a wider span that an Amer­i­can In­dian tribe says holds sa­cred ar­ti­facts.

The govern­ment’s or­der came min­utes af­ter a judge re­jected a re­quest by the Stand­ing Rock Sioux to halt con­struc­tion of the $3.8 bil­lion, four-state pipe­line.

The tribe, whose cause has drawn thou­sands to join their protest, has chal­lenged the Army Corps of En­gi­neers’ de­ci­sion to grant per­mits at more than 200 wa­ter cross­ings for the pipe­line.

Tribal lead­ers al­lege it vi­o­lates sev­eral fed­eral laws and will harm wa­ter sup­plies.

The tribe also al­leges that an­cient sites have been dis­turbed dur­ing con­struc­tion.

The tribe’s chair­man, Dave Ar­cham­bault II, spoke at the North Dakota state Capi­tol in front of sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple, some car­ry­ing signs that read “Re­spect Our Wa­ter” and “Wa­ter Is Sa­cred.” Ar­cham­bault called the fed­eral an­nounce­ment “a beau­ti­ful start” and said the dis­pute is a long way from over.

“A pub­lic pol­icy win is a lot stronger than a ju­di­cial win,” he said. “Our mes­sage is heard.”

A joint state­ment from the Army and the de­part­ments of Jus­tice and In­te­rior said con­struc­tion bor­der­ing or un­der Lake Oahe would not go for­ward and asked the Texas-based pipe­line builder, En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners, to stop Mem­bers of Colorado River In­dian tribes ar­rive re­cently to lend their sup­port to the Stand­ing Rock Sioux Tribe’s op­po­si­tion to the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line in North Dakota. work 20 miles to the east and west of the lake while the govern­ment re­con­sid­ers “any of its pre­vi­ous de­ci­sions.”

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.”

The pres­i­dent of the North Dakota Petroleum Coun­cil said he was dis­ap­pointed with the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to in­ter­vene and called it “fla­grant over­reach” that will re­sult in more oil be­ing moved by trucks and trains.

The 1,172-mile project would carry nearly a halfmil­lion bar­rels of crude oil daily from North Dakota’s oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa to an ex­ist­ing pipe­line in Pa­toka, Ill.

U. S. District Judge James Boas­berg in Wash­ing­ton said in deny­ing the tribe’s re­quest for a tem­po­rary in­junc­tion that 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.”

But the judge wrote that the tribe “has not de­mon- strated that an in­junc­tion is war­ranted here.”

At­tor­ney Jan Has­sel­man with the en­vi­ron­men­tal group Earthjus­tice, who filed the law­suit on the tribe’s be­half, said ear­lier this week 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.

Tribal his­to­rian LaDonna Brave Bull Al­lard said Boas­berg’s 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.”

Ear­lier in the day, thou­sands of pro­test­ers, many from tribes around the coun­try, gath­ered near the reservation that strad­dles the North and South Dakota bor­der.

“There’s never been a com­ing to­gether of tribes like this,” ac­cord­ing to Ju­dith LeBlanc, a mem­ber of the Caddo Na­tion in Ok­la­homa and direc­tor of the New York-based Na­tive Or­ga­niz­ers Al­liance.

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.

ROBYN BECK/GETTY-AFP

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