WASHINGTON — An American Indian tribe succeeded Tuesday in getting a federal judge to temporarily stop construction on some, but not all, of a portion of a $3.8 billion four-state oil pipeline, but their broader request still hangs in the balance.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said Tuesday that work will temporarily stop between North Dakota's State Highway 1806 and 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but will continue west of the highway because he believes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lacks jurisdiction on private land.
He also said he'll rule by the end of Friday on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's challenge of federal regulators' decision to grant permits to the Texas-based operators of Dakota Access pipeline, which will cross North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
A weekend confrontation between protesters and construction workers near Lake Oahe prompted the tribe to ask Sunday for a temporary stop of construction. Four private security guards and two guard dogs received medical treatment, officials said, while a tribal spokesman noted that six people — including a child — were bitten by the dogs and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed.
Dakota Access attorney Bill Leone said during Tuesday's hearing that if it weren't for the stoppages, the section in question would be finished by the end of this week.
Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II issued a statement after the ruling, saying: "Today's denial of a temporary restraining order … west of Lake Oahe puts my people's sacred places at further risk of ruin and desecration." Attorney Jan Hasselman with Earthjustice, who filed the broader lawsuit on behalf of the tribe, noted the tribe will "know more by the end of the week about where we're heading."
Over the weekend, workers allegedly bulldozed sites on private land that Hasselman said in court documents was "of great historic and cultural significance to the tribe." The tribe's cultural expert, Tim Mentz Sr., said in court documents that the tribe believes there are human remains in the area and that it wants "an opportunity to rebury our relatives."