Judge issues restraining order against some ND pipeline construction

Judge issues restraining order against some ND pipeline construction
© Greg Nash/The Hill
 
A federal judge on Tuesday issued a short-term restraining order against construction work on a section of a controversial pipeline project in North Dakota.  
 
The ruling comes days before U.S. District Judge James Boasberg will rule on a broader tribal request to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, which a local tribe argues is moving forward without proper consultation. 
 
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The order Tuesday blocks construction between a state highway and 20 miles west of Lake Oahe, a section of the Missouri River deemed important by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The order will expire after the judge issues ruling on overall construction later this week. 
 
The tribe had asked for a restraining order against new construction, alleging the pipeline developers destroyed culturally important artifacts during clearing work over the weekend. 
 
The tribe had hoped to block construction along a bigger stretch of land, but Boasberg ruled the Army Corps of Engineers — the subject of the tribe's underlying lawsuit — doesn't have jurisdiction over those lands.
 
Dakota Access opposed a broader restraining order, but it agreed to the ruling anyway because it said it had not planned on doing construction on the land covered by it this week. 
 
Even so, the company's attorney, William Leone, said the ruling could back up other construction work continuing along the 1,700-mile pipeline route. 
 
He also wanted the ruling to reflect that the company wasn't at fault, and said the restraining order should only move forward if protesters in North Dakota back away from the construction site. 
 
"There is a principle at issue and it's an important principle for my clients," he said. 
 
The ruling comes after a tense weekend of protests, in which the tribe alleges Dakota Access security used pepper spray and attack dogs against protesters and the company says the protesters hurt several guards. 
 
Jan Hasselman, the tribe's attorney, said Standing Rock has no influence over those protests. 
 
"The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is not attacking anybody," he said. 
 
Hasselman said the tribe was "disappointed" in the scope of the ruling. He predicted a long legal fight ahead over the project. 
 
"I think this means we all wait until Friday to see what happens, and then we're likely on to appeals."