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Judge strikes down Sioux tribe’s lawsuit to stop a North Dakota pipeline

A federal judge denied a Sioux tribe’s request to halt work on a North Dakota area pipeline.

That’s according to the ruling that was made Friday afternoon.

The Standing Rock Sioux had filed a lawsuit over the $3.8 billion oil pipeline saying a permit has been issued for the pipeline to cross rivers without a full review. They argued the pipeline – which runs within half a mile of their reservation – is a threat to their Missouri River water supply and might destroy sites of cultural and historical significance.

However, the courts ruled in favor of the pipeline, saying there’s not enough evidence for the tribe’s claims.

The reasoning

The ruling says “that the Tribe has not shown it will suffer injury that would be prevented by any injunction the Court could issue.”

It also notes that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appears to have complied with the National Historic Preservation Act, which protects historic sites.

“This Court does not lightly countenance any depredation of lands that hold significance to the Standing Rock Sioux,” the ruling states. “The Court scrutinizes the permitting process here with particular care.”

Officials ask the company to pause anyway

However, the Department of Justice issued a joint statement with the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior on Friday.

It says that they’re requesting the pipeline company  – Energy Transfer Partners – “voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”

That’s so authorities can evaluate some federal laws to figure out whether any previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site need to be changed.

Prior to the ruling, the tribe posted to Facebook saying they will “continue to stand united and peaceful in our opposition to the pipeline,” regardless of the decision.

“We will continue to explore every lawful option and fight against the construction of the pipeline,” tribal chairman David Archambault II said in a statement.

A peace rally at the state capitol

A peace rally was started at the state capitol shortly after the announcement and is being broadcast live here.

Native Americans and activists have been protesting the construction of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline, which would run between the Bakken oil fields and Illinois. Proponents of the pipeline say it will reduce the amount of oil that needs to be transported by truck or train.

The Bismarck Tribune reported the North Dakota National Guard was put on alert ahead of Friday’s decision by the judge.

The protests started last month and there have been dozens of arrests since. In fact, the protests have been called the largest gathering of Native Americans in modern times.

Last weekend, things turned violent there when security guards clashed with demonstrators.

Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear told CBS that six people had been bitten by security dogs, including a young child, and at least 30 people were pepper-sprayed by the private guards. Meanwhile the authorities said it had received no reports of protesters being injured.

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