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The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux just suffered a major defeat at the hands of a federal judge — the tribes’ request to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was rejected Monday afternoon. The tribe’s lawyers filed the motion arguing that Lake Oahe, which the pipeline would cross, contains sacred water which would be desecrated by the pipeline. This argument was dismissed by Energy Transfer Partners, saying that the company had “the utmost respect for the religious beliefs and traditions” of the tribe and that their efforts did not threaten the traditions of the community.

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The protesters, who fear the consequences of an oil spill near their main source of water, say they aren’t surprised by the ruling. In a report from the Guardian, many reaffirmed their commitment to the cause, with some stating they would continue to occupy the protest camps near the pipeline’s construction sites.

Related: Army approves Dakota Access Pipeline route – and construction could begin immediately

Religious beliefs and traditions weren’t only issues at stake in this ruling. The pipeline, which was originally halted by the Obama administration in December, was supposed to undergo a lengthy environmental review process before permits would be issued for the company to begin drilling. Instead, Donald Trump used his first weeks in office to throw out the review and simply push the approval process through.

Though many indigenous protesters dispersed during the winter to avoid brutal storms, they are beginning to return as the weather improves. They are vowing to continue to fight the pipeline, both on the ground and in court.

Via The Guardian

Images via Tony Webster and Lars Plougmann