A decision by the Obama administration to temporarily block construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline this Friday gave the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and hundreds of other protesters cause for celebration. Just minutes after a federal judge rejected the tribe’s request for an injunction, the surprise announcement was released and the project has been halted – for now.
Earlier this week, the Tribe had requested a temporary restraining order to halt the construction of the pipeline. Judge James Boasberg of the D.C. district court acknowledged the “indignities visited upon the Tribe over the last centuries” in his ruling. Despite these considerations, the decision stated “the Court must nonetheless conclude that the Tribe has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here.”
Despair turned almost immediately into delight when, according to The Atlantic, a joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Army indicated the government had stepped into override the court’s decision. “Construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time,” said the statement. “We request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”
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The Army will also “reconsider any of its previous decisions” concerning the federal legality of the pipeline, including its regard for the National Environmental Policy Act. This July, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the pipeline, followed by a lawsuit from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The biggest concerns are the destruction of historical and cultural sites and the potential risk to the community’s drinking water, should the pipeline leak or break.
A statement on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Facebook account reads, “This federal statement is a game changer for the Tribe and we are acting immediately on our legal options, including filing an appeal and a temporary injunction to force DAPL to stop construction.”
The move comes just days after privately contracted workers released vicious dogs and used pepper spray on the unarmed protestors.
Via The Atlantic
Images via Joe Brusky, Flickr, Facebook