On Tuesday, Dakota Access opted to halt their activity on a pipeline in some areas of North Dakota, but continued work in other parts of the state. A chairman for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe remarked that his people were “disappointed” that the oil company is still choosing to work on the pipeline on sacred land.
The pipeline and its protesters were brought to public attention at the end of August when celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Shailene Woodley demonstrated alongside the Standing Rock Sioux to protect water sources and land revered by the tribe.
Over the last weekend, events became heated between security and protesters near the pipeline construction site. The Standing Rock Sioux and another Native American tribe then banded together Sunday to ask the U.S. District Court in D.C. for a temporary restraining order against Dakota Access. Tuesday, Judge James Boasberg said that he partially allowed the tribes’ request and that he would hand down a decision by Friday whether to allow the tribes’ full request. If Boasberg decides to grant a full restraining order, the work permits obtained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the construction would have to be withdrawn.
An assembly of companies headed by Energy Transfer Partners is erecting the 1,100 mile-long pipeline across the state of North Dakota. The state is home to Bakken Shale, a massive oil formation. If completed, the $3.7 billion venture is would be the first of its kind to transport crude oil from the Bakken shale straight to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
David Archambault II, tribal chairman for the Standing Rock Sioux, stated that the judge’s ruling puts his tribe’s sacred sites “at further risk of ruin and desecration.”
As of Friday, Dakota Access halted construction in an area that accounts for roughly half of the total land outlined in the tribes’ restraining order request. On Tuesday, an attorney for the tribe said that the land Dakota Access halted activity on did not consist of the ancient prayer and burial sites that the tribes find so sacred. The attorney, Jan Hasselman, also said that the tribe would wait patiently for the judge’s final ruling Friday, but would seek an appeal if the judge rules in favor of Dakota Access.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Dakota Access blamed the Standing Rock Sioux for provoking opponents of the pipeline to break the law and disturb the peace. After the ruling, lawyers for the company could not be immediately reached for comment. According to the tribes, the protests on Saturday ignited when Dakota Access brought in bulldozers to defile the sacred sites that had been acknowledged in court documents Friday. A participant in Saturday’s events, Tomas Alejo, said that the security had created a “barricade” with guard dogs that bit the children and elders of the tribe.
In response to the tribes’ restraining order and Saturday’s protests, Dakota Access said that the protesters actually “stampeded” the construction site and attacked security and their dogs with improvised weapons. Dakota Access also said that their bulldozers did not destroy important or historical sites.