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Federal judge declines to halt construction of Dakota Access pipeline

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Monday turned down a request [JURIST report] to stop construction on the final stretch of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Judge James Boasberg rejected [blog post] the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's [official website] argument that the pipeline could contaminate the waters that the tribes use to practice their religion as it is a part of their sacred ground. The judge claimed [Law360 report] that the filing was premature. "I think it's important to have time to fully brief and analyze the issues in the context of a preliminary injunction motion or a motion for summary judgment. I would benefit from further attention and analysis, so I will deny the motion for a temporary restraining order." He said that there is no immediate harm until oil begins flowing down the pipeline to grant the temporary restraining order requested [text, PDF]. The judge also ordered Energy Transfer Partners [corporate website] to update the court on the status of the pipeline weekly. A hearing for the request for a preliminary injunction [text, PDF] filed by the tribe is set for February 27.

The Dakota Access Pipeline [informational website] is a partially constructed oil pipeline that would transport more than 470,000 barrels of oil per day over its 1,172 mile length through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Earlier this month the US Army Corps of Engineers granted the final permit for the pipeline after an executive order [JURIST reports] by President Trump. Conflict between protesters and police has been condemned by both the UN and the American Civil Liberties Union. In November the ACLU reported that police at the Standing Rock site in North Dakota used life-threatening weapons to control protesters [JURIST report]. Earlier that month a UN rights group released a statement expressing concerns that the US government is ignoring treaty rights, as well as human rights [JURIST report] of Native Americans and others that are protesting the DAPL.

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