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Federal judge denies emergency injunction against Dakota Access Pipeline

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Tuesday denied [order, PDF] a request by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe [official website] for an emergency injunction to stop oil from flowing through the part of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that runs under Lake Oahe. Judge James Boasberg denied the request because of the tribe's "lack of likelihood of success on the merits." In his order, Boasberg also echoed his previous opinion [text, PDF] from earlier this month stating "[t]he public interest would not be served by an injunction" because it would likely be turned over on appeal. He also acknowledged "that the Tribe is likely to suffer irreparable harm to its members' religious exercise if oil is introduced into the pipeline," but went on to say, "Dakota Access would also be substantially harmed by an injunction, given the financial and logistical injuries that would ensue." The DAPL is expected to be ready to carry oil by April 1.

In January President Donald Trump signed [JURIST report] an executive order that allowed for construction of both the DAPL and the Keystone XL project. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [official website], Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, on Friday called [JURIST report] for the US to adopt a consistent approach to indigenous land rights in pipeline projects. The Special Rapporteur was concerned [transcript] about how indigenous peoples were not fully consulted on the DAPL, leaving them with disruptions to their land. Protesters had made camp at the site since early summer and were led in part by the Indigenous Environmental Network [advocacy website] and the Standing Rock Sioux. Conflict between protesters and police has been condemned by both the UN and the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website]. In November the ACLU reported that police at the Standing Rock site in North Dakota used life-threatening weapons [JURIST report] to control protesters. 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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