Oil could be moving through the divisive Dakota Access Pipeline as soon as next week.
A legal challenge by the Cheyenne River Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux was rejected by a U.S. judge Tuesday – here's the ruling.
The tribes had asked the judge to essentially withdraw the permission Energy Transfer Partners got to finish building the pipeline. The company needs to construct pipeline beneath Lake Oahe along the Missouri River, which would connect both sides and complete the project. The company was granted permission (called an easement) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in February, after the new administration took over the White House.
The tribes argued in part that simply having a crude oil pipeline beneath the lake would make the water unusable for religious purposes.
The judge rejected that argument however, saying the tribe likely isn't able to show that the pipeline beneath Lake Oahe is "a substantial burden on its members’ free exercise of religion." Because of that, he won't grant the injunction the tribe is seeking.
The pipeline would bring crude oil 1,100 miles from the Bakken oil fields to Illinois, but has to cross about 1,094 feet of federal land at Lake Oahe, Energy Transfer Partners says. This ruling means Energy Transfer Partners can finish that portion of the line, and get crude oil flowing – a filing by the company says it plans to start doing so by next week, Reuters reports.
However, The Associated Press notes the overall legal challenge isn't over; there still needs to be a ruling on the tribes' overarching claims, but that won't come until April at the earliest.
For more on the pipeline’s background, including arguments for and against it, check out this previous story.