A judge decided Friday to allow the construction of a hotly disputed North Dakota oil pipeline to move forward, despite objections from a Native American tribe that claims it violates sacred tribal ground.
Judge James Boasberg denied the motion for a preliminary injunction to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, arguing the Native American tribe could not show how the pipeline would damage the group’s sacred ground.
The tribe haggled with the oil pipeline developers over whether the National Historic Preservation Act, which allows the government to preserve historical and archaeological sites, can and should be used to prevent the building of the $3.8 million pipeline.
The nearly 1,200-mile pipeline would be the first to shuttle Bakken shale from North Dakota directly to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The decision will almost certainly enrage those protesting the pipeline and embolden energy developers such as the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN).
MAIN’s spokesman Craig Stevens told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement that the company hopes the decision will ease the “emotionally charged atmosphere” surrounding the pipeline.
“The company has received all needed approvals, invested billions of dollars across four states,” Stevens said, “and worked to be good partners in this – one of the largest private infrastructure projects ever developed in the U.S.”
He also said that there would have been a “chilling effect on domestic” oil development had Boasberg decided against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, on the other hand, believes the pipeline could cause environmental damage and harm drinking water.
Members of the group met outside the steps of the Washington, D.C., courthouse in August to protest the construction of the pipeline, which they say would wreak havoc on their native lands and cause widespread water contamination.
Tribal preservation officer Tim Mentz cited court documents concluding that researchers found burial rock piles called cairns, as well as other areas deemed historically “significant” to Native Americans.
They rallied outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia while others clamored inside the court to wage a legal battle over the $3.7 billion project.
Tensions between the two sides have bubbled over recently as construction workers and protesters collide on the work site.
Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey told reporters Monday that four security guards not affiliated with law enforcement and two guard dogs were injured as several hundred protesters living in the Standing Rock Sioux reservation confronted pipeline workers at the site.
One of the security officers was taken to a hospital, while the two guard dogs were taken to veterinary clinic, Preskey said. She said there weren’t any reports of protestors being injured. Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear disagreed, telling reporters that security dogs bit six protesters and a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed during the altercation, he added.
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