Tribe asks for restraining order against pipeline project

Tribe asks for restraining order against pipeline project
© Greg Nash/The Hill

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is asking a federal judge to temporarily halt construction work on the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota to “prevent further destruction of sacred and culturally significant sites.”

The Army Corps of Engineers, which is defending itself in a tribal lawsuit over the pipeline, will not oppose the request, saying it will “preserve peace” amid increasingly intense protests over the pipeline. 

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In a weekend court filing, the tribe says pipeline developers have bulldozed a sacred site in North Dakota, clearing vegetation, soil and stones along the pipline’s route near Lake Ohae despite tribal warnings about the area's significance. 

The tribe is seeking a temporary retraining order against construction there while it waits for a federal judge to decide whether to halt construction of the 1,170 mile project and order more environmental and cultural assessments of the pipeline's route. A decision in that case is expected this week.

“The loss of these sites causes incalculable harm to the Tribe,” lawyers argued in a Monday filing.

“A [temporary restraining order] will prevent additional destruction to this important site and other potential sites nearby that remain unsurveyed pending a ruling on the preliminary injunction.”

The Army Corps of Engineers, in its own filing, said it “does not oppose this short and discrete temporary restraining order” because it could ease tensions at anti-pipeline protests. 

The Dakota Access Pipeline would bring oil from North Dakota to Illinois. While clearing of land for the pipeline has begun, no construction has been done so far.

Protesters and private security guards clashed at a protest site over the weekend. Three security guards were injured, the Bismarck Tribune reported, and the tribe says guards used pepper spray against protesters and allowed security dogs to attack them.

A federal judge called a Tuesday afternoon hearing on the restraining order request. He has said he will rule on a tribe’s request for a long-term injunction against the pipeline’s construction by the end of this week.