A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order on construction work on parts of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline in North Dakota. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said work would be halted in an area near Lake Oahe — just one part of the larger region where tensions have flared between law enforcement officials and Native American tribes — until Friday.
The decision comes amid continuing clashes between members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, private security guards and law enforcement authorities. The tribes oppose the construction of the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which, if completed, would carry nearly half million barrels of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation.
Members of the tribe argue that building the pipeline in the region would destroy sacred sites and ancient burial grounds, and threaten their drinking-water supply. In order to block the company building the pipeline — the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners — the tribe had, on Sunday, filed a motion for a temporary restraining order.
In his ruling Friday, Boasberg said that work will temporarily stop between North Dakota's State Highway 1806 and within roughly 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but it will continue west of the highway.
He is expected to decide by Friday whether the injunction requested by the tribe last month would be granted.
“Today’s denial of a temporary restraining order against DAPL west of Lake Oahe puts my people’s sacred places at further risk of ruin and desecration,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said in a statement released Tuesday. “We are disappointed that the U.S. District Court’s decision does not prevent DAPL from destroying our sacred sites as we await a ruling on our original motion to stop construction of the pipeline.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which approved the project in July, said it does not oppose the temporary halt in construction work, reportedly telling the court that “the public interest would be served by preserving peace.”