The Obama administration said it would momentarily stop the construction of a hotly disputed North Dakota oil pipeline, potentially gifting protesters a victory shortly after suffering a debilitating court loss.
President Barack Obama said Friday that construction on the nearly 2,000-mile pipeline would be shelved until the government can determine the effects it will have on the environment.
The Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior announced the pause in an area near the North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, a major water resource for the state’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution,” the government said in a press statement. “In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”
Energy group Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN) called Obama’s decision to halt development troubling, and a move that could ultimately cost the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of oil workers.
MAIN’s spokesman Craig Stevens told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement that the administration’s move would most certainly place “these workers’ jobs are in peril.”
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe met outside the steps of the Washington, D.C., courthouse Aug. 25 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.
The prolonged court battle culminated in Judge James Boasberg denying the motion for a preliminary injunction to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, arguing that 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.
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