Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II outside the court last week. Native News Online photo by Randall Slikkers
U.S. Court of Appeals denies injunction that would have halted construction during appeal process
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Sunday rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. The announcement was made public by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in a news release distributed within the past hour on Sunday evening.
The decision comes as the Tribe is pursuing an appeal to stop construction while the rest of the case proceeds in U.S. District Court.
“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is not backing down from this fight,” said Dave Archambault II, Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “We are guided by prayer, and we will continue to fight for our people. We will not rest until our lands, people, waters and sacred places are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline.”
The 1,168-mile pipeline crosses through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s ancestral lands and within a half mile of the reservation boundary. Construction crews have already destroyed and desecrated confirmed sacred and historic sites, including burials and cultural artifacts. The original pipeline route crossed the Missouri River just north of Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. The route was later shifted downstream, to the tribe’s doorstep, out of concerns for the city’s drinking water supply.
“We call on Dakota access to heed the government’s request to stand down around Lake Oahe,” said Jan Hasselman, lead attorney from Earthjustice, which is representing the Tribe. “The government is still deciding whether or not Dakota access should get a permit. Continuing construction before the decision is made would be a tragedy given what we know about the importance of this area.”
In its ruling, a panel of U.S. Circuit Court judges denied the tribe’s request for an injunction, allowing construction to continue as the Tribe’s appeal is considered. Previously, the Department of Justice announced a temporary halt to pipeline construction on federal lands and requested that Energy Transfer Partners voluntarily halt construction on private lands.
“The federal government recognizes what is at stake and has asked DAPL to halt construction,” said Archambault. “We hope that they will comply with that request.”
Archambault notes that by allowing pipeline construction to continue, today’s ruling threatens millions.
“This ruling puts 17 million people who rely on the Missouri River at serious risk,” said Archambault. “And, already, the Dakota Access Pipeline has led to the desecration of our sacred sites when the company bulldozed over the burials of our Lakota and Dakota ancestors. This is not the end of this fight. We will continue to explore all lawful options to protect our people, our water, our land, and our sacred places.”