Appeals court rejects attempt to stop pipeline construction; company still needs Army Corps permission to build under Missouri River
By Red Power Media, Staff | Oct 09, 2016
A federal appeals court has rejected a Native American tribe’s attempt to block an oil pipeline from crossing its water source and lands it says are culturally important.
According to media reports, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday, denied the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s emergency motion for injunction to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannonball, North Dakota. Despite concerns, the pipeline would cross a reservoir upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation, the three-judge panel shot down the injunction.
In a two-page ruling, the Court of Appeals rejected the tribe’s request for a permanent injunction to block the $3.7 billion, 1,170-mile pipeline. Court documents say the tribe was unable to show adequate reasoning for the injunction, which prompted the court to deny the motion.
Documents say the Dakota Access Pipeline “has rights of access to the limited portion of the pipeline corridor not yet cleared where the Tribe alleges additional historic sites are at risk.” The ruling allows Energy Transfer Partners — the Dallas-based company funding the project — to move forward with construction of the pipeline on all privately owned land up to the Missouri River.
The court’s ruling Sunday, however, did acknowledge that the ruling was “not the final word,” noting that the final decision lies with the Army Corps.
According to the Associated Press, in a statement, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said that the tribe “is not backing down from this fight.”
“We will not rest until our lands, people, waters and sacred places are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline,” Archambault said.
For months, thousands have joined more than 300 federally recognized Native American tribes at Cannon Ball, N.D. — the site of the Oceti Sakowin Camp — to protest the pipeline.
The protests forced a halt in construction in late August after the Standing Rock Sioux sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the land, arguing that it did not adequately consult with them before granting Energy Transfer Partners fast-track approval in July.
Tribal and state officials were also at odds over whether sacred sites were destroyed while digging a pipeline corridor. The state archaeologist has said an inspection found no sign that the area contained human remains or cultural artifacts.
The court issued its ruling Sunday evening as most media attention was focused on a highly anticipated controversial presidential debate. The ruling in favor of Dakota Access Pipeline construction comes just days after Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier’s announcement that he would be bringing teams from Sheriff departments around the country to North Dakota in an effort to more effectively prevent water protectors from being able to access Dakota Access Pipeline construction sites.
Congressman Kevin Cramer applauded the ruling. “I look forward to the workers getting back to work, doing the jobs they need to do Monday morning,” the North Dakota Republican said in a statement.
Though work may resume, three federal agencies — Interior, Justice and Army — immediately ordered that construction stop on land owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers next to and underneath Lake Oahe as it reviews its permitting decisions.
No timetable has been set for the federal review.
Meanwhile, despite delays caused by protests, the North Dakota leg of the Dakota Access pipeline was 87 percent complete at the end of September, according to the monthly construction report filed with the state Public Service Commission on Oct. 5th.