Government Sides With Tribe, Halts Pipeline Construction

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says it's a 'game changer'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2016 9:53 AM CDT
Government Sides With Tribe, Halts Pipeline Construction
Horseback riders make their way through an encampment near North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux reservation on Friday. The government, siding with the tribe, has called a temporary halt on construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.   (AP Photo/James MacPherson)

On the heels of major defeat comes surprising victory: Shortly after a federal judge denied a request from the Standing Rock Sioux to halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, the federal government stepped in and did exactly that. ABC News reports the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, and Army jointly announced a temporary injunction against construction of the oil pipeline under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. It's also asking the company behind the pipeline to voluntarily stop construction on either side of the lake, according to the Wall Street Journal. The tribe relies on the lake—directly upstream from its reservation—for drinking water, religious practices, fishing, and more. It claimed construction would damage sacred sites and possible leaks would ruin its potable water.

The Army Corps of Engineers will now "reconsider" whether the pipeline breaks federal law, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Atlantic reports. In its announcement, the government acknowledged the thousands of people that joined in protest of the pipeline. The tribe calls the decision a "game changer." In addition, the government says tribes will be invited to take place in consultations about potential reforms to the way infrastructure projects around the country are approved. “Native peoples have suffered generations of broken promises and today the federal government said that national reform is needed," the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tells the Journal, calling the government's decision "historic." (More Dakota Access Pipeline stories.)

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