Seeking to stop construction, tribes argue that the Dakota Access Pipeline endangers water supply, religious freedom.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp next week, still inhabited by about 400 opponents to the controversial project.
The Army warns the Missouri River nearby is expected to flood and put the camp, used by thousands of protesters, under water.
Meanwhile, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., rejected two tribes’ last-ditch effort to stop the remaining construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Community gathering tonight on Standing Rock, Dakota Access Pipeline
Standing Rock Sioux tribal member Chase Iron Eyes of the Lakota People’s Law Project talks about his experience at Standing Rock and what’s ahead at a free event 7-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at Washington Hall, 153 14th Ave., Seattle.
As drilling advances under the river, the two tribes on Monday, arguing the pipeline violates their religious freedom and endangers their water supply and cultural sites, requested a temporary restraining order against further construction.
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U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said that as long as the oil isn’t flowing through the pipeline, there is no immediate harm to the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. But he said he’d consider the arguments more thoroughly at another hearing on Feb. 27.
Even if oil starts to flow, tribal leaders have said they will continue to fight the pipeline.
Construction began last week after Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas, received the last easement it needed from the Trump administration to complete the final phase of the more than 1,100-mile-long pipeline, drilling under the Missouri River.
Authorizing the drilling violates free exercise of the tribes’ religious rituals, which require clean water from the river, attorney Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice in Seattle argued.
Both tribes also warned the pipeline could break and pollute the river, which is the source of drinking water for the tribe and millions of people downstream. Cultural sites also are jeopardized by construction, the tribe has warned.
An environmental review of the project must be completed, including consideration of alternative routes, both tribes argue in their underlying suit.
The pipeline is expected to carry as much as 575,000 barrels of oil a day. The Obama administration ordered the environmental review the tribes had sought, but the Trump administration tossed it out within days of President Donald Trump’s taking office.
Energy Transfer Partners has long argued the pipeline is safer and cheaper than transporting oil by rail or truck.
The pipeline has sparked protests since last summer. Police from nine states and 33 agencies have made more than 700 arrests of demonstrators since last August, and used tear gas, rubber bullets and even water during violent clashes this winter.