Federal judge halts construction of North Dakota oil pipeline near tribal land
Federal judge halts construction of North Dakota oil pipeline near tribal land

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Tuesday partially granted a tribe’s request to suspend the construction of a North Dakota crude oil pipeline running north of the tribe’s land. In July the Standing Rock Sioux tribe [official website] challenged [complaint, PDF] the construction in court, arguing that the pipeline would be built on sacred burial grounds and would pose an environmental risk to the surrounding rivers. The tribe’s legal challenge has drawn strong support from other tribes and protesters who have set up camp nearby the pipeline’s construction site. Though protesters had hoped that the construction project would be shut down completely, Judge James Boasberg only granted a temporary restraining order pending a final ruling to be issued on Friday. Should Boasberg fully grant the tribe’s legal challenge, the US Army Corps of Engineers [official website] will be required to withdraw their permits for the pipeline immediately.

The rights of indigenous peoples have become a pressing international legal topic in the past decade. In July a federal appeals court rejected [JURIST report] Alaska’s challenge in a case determining the right of Alaskan tribes to place land in a federal trust. In May Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett stated [JURIST report] it would drop its objector status against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In April JURIST Guest Columnist Dwight Newman of the University of Saskatchewan discussed [JURIST op-ed] what is happening with recent leave decisions related to Indigenous rights and Canadian energy regulation. In March Canadian indigenous people, including Inuits of Nunavut and the Chippewa, were granted [JURIST report] an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, challenging the use of seismic testing to find natural gas under the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay. In February experts from the UN and the Inter-American human rights systems urged [JURIST report] Canada to address the “root causes” of the extreme violence and discrimination against indigenous women and girls in that country.