Judge refuses to stop work on Dakota Access pipeline

Activists participate in an art project conceived by Cannupa Hunska Luger from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

The tribe said in court papers that the restraining order was necessary because the pipeline, even if it doesn't leak, would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by desecrating water used in religious ceremonies.

"As Lake Oahe is the only natural, unadulterated, and ritually pure water available to the Tribe - a trust resource for which the United States owes the Tribe a fiduciary duty- desecration of these waters represents a substantial burden on the Tribe's religious exercise", the tribe argued. Protests against the 1,170-mile-long crude oil causeway have, in the past, cited potential water contamination and environmental devastation if the pipeline fails.

American Indian activist Chase Iron Eyes says he's not deterred by a judge's ruling that the developer of the Dakota Access pipeline can continue drilling under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.

Although the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, along with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, have been challenging the pipeline since past year, arguments on Monday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia centered on a new argument that the Cheyenne River tribe raised in its latest court papers: that the pipeline would burden their exercise of religion, in violation of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

"They asked for a temporary restraining order blocking construction of the project, which runs under the lake". To add insult to injury, the Army didn't bother with the requisite environmental impact study. Some have been here since April, their numbers fluctuating between hundreds and thousands, in an unprecedented show of joint resistance to the almost 1,200 mile-long Dakota Access oil pipeline. Amid the renewed effort to complete the project, the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribe vowed to continue their legal battle through the courts. Only a few hundred protesters remain, and crews have been removing tipis and yurts.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp next week, still inhabited by about 400 opponents to the controversial project.

Before heading to court Monday, it was widely anticipated that the legal team representing the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes would have a tough time proving their case to Judge Boasberg and getting the restraining order they so desperately sought.

Boasberg denied the order Monday at an already scheduled status hearing in the case.

The Army Corps has said it will close remaining camps on federal lands along the Cannonball River in North Dakota after February 22. 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.

Construction on the pipeline had stalled for months due to opposition from protesters.


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