Judge Won’t Stop Final Construction of Dakota Access Pipeline



A federal judge in Washington issued a ruling this week that wasn’t well received by those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg refused to temporarily stop construction of the final leg of the $3.8 billion pipeline that will carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois. Judge Boasberg had been asked by the Standing Rock and Cheyene River Sioux tribes to order the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw permission for developer Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas to lay pipe under the Lake Oahe in North Dakota. That’s the last stretch of construction before oil would start flowing through the pipeline.

The tribes argued the construction violates their right to practice their religion. Judge Boasberg said the tribes didn’t raise the argument in a timely fashion.

“Only once Dakota Access had built up to the water’s edge and the Corps had granted the easement to proceed did Cheyenne River inform defendants that the pipeline was the realization of a long-held prophecy about a Black Snake and that the mere presence of oil in the pipeline under the lakebed would interfere with tribe’s members’ ability to engage in important religious practices,” said the judge.

He indicated he would allow the tribes to continue their religion argument but didn’t think it would be successful.

“Although the tribe’s members may feel unable to use the water from Lake Oahe in their religious ceremonies once the pipeline is operational, there is no specific ban on their religious exercise,” he said.