Pipeline temporarily halted

SUBHEAD: Dakota Access Pipeline construction temporarily halted as protests rage.

By Ryon Koronowski on 6 September 2016 for Think Progress -

Image above: Jon Don Ilone Reed, an Army veteran and member of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, at an oil pipeline protest near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in southern North Dakota, Aug. 25, 2016. Reed said he fought in Iraq and is now fighting “fighting for our children and our water.” Photo by James McPherson. From original article.

The emergency court hearing followed a weekend of protests that turned violent in North Dakota.

A federal judge brokered a temporary agreement in an emergency hearing over the construction of the Bakken pipeline, or Dakota Access pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe agreed to the deal along with the pipeline’s builders, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers. It halts construction on some, but not all, of the 1,172-mile pipeline that would pump oil from the fracked shale deposits in North Dakota to an oil hub in Illinois.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg partially halted construction until he reached a more complete decision on Friday. But the judge did not halt work from progressing on nearby private land.

An attorney for the tribe said it is grateful for the partial stoppage but “disappointed that some of the important sacred sites that we had found and provided evidence for will not be protected.”

The fight over the pipeline’s construction has prompted protests that turned violent over the weekend. Construction crew bulldozers went 20 miles out of their way to demolish sacred sites along the pipeline’s pathway in North Dakota, according to Tim Mentz, former historic preservation officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

When protesters demonstrated near the construction site on Saturday morning, private security officers hired by the pipeline’s owner, Energy Transfer Partners, confronted them with dogs and pepper spray.

Injuries were reported on both sides, with some security personnel and dogs suffering minor injuries, and several protesters reporting injuries from dog bites, including a child and a pregnant woman. Dozens reported being pepper sprayed.

The tribe has gone to court to challenge the permits granted by the Army Corps of Engineers, and while the Corps has not changed its opinion about the way in which the permits were granted, they did agree Monday that a restraining order against Dakota Access LLC was warranted.

Mentz said that the tribe’s historical preservation experts had only recently been granted access to private land that would be disturbed by construction when, after a short examination, they found signs of burial rock cairns of historic significance.

The Dakota Access pipeline would carry oil across four states from North Dakota to Illinois through South Dakota and Iowa, cost $3.8 billion to construct, and enable higher production from the Bakken Formation. This shale deposit became the center of the U.S. fracking boom last decade, though production has slowed as global oil prices have dropped.

“On Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts,” Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said.

“They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites. The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm. We’re asking the court to halt this path of destruction.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a temporary restraining order on Sunday following the violent altercation on Saturday.

Protesters made their position clear outside the U.S. District Court building in Washington, DC during the emergency hearing.


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