Federal judge won’t stop Dakota Access pipeline

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2017, file photo, a large crowd representing a majority of the remaining Dakota Access Pipeline protesters march out of the Oceti Sakowin camp before the 2 p.m. local time deadline set for evacuation of the camp mandated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers near Cannon Ball, N.D. American Indians from across the country are bringing their frustrations with the Trump administration and its approval of the Dakota Access oil pipeline to the nation's capital Tuesday, March 7, 2017, kicking off four days of activities that will culminate in a march on the White House. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

(AP) – A federal judge has declined to temporarily stop construction of the final section of the Dakota Access pipeline.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s decision came Tuesday, a week after he held a Feb. 28 hearing to consider the matter. It means the pipeline could be operating this month.

The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux asked Boasberg to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw permission for Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners to lay pipe under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The stretch under the Missouri River reservoir is the last piece of construction for the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil to Illinois.

Boasberg’s ruling isn’t the end of the court battle, as no final decision has been made on the merits of the tribes’ claims that the pipeline threatens cultural sites, water and religion.

The leader of the American Indian tribe leading the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline says a federal judge’s decision allowing the completion of construction isn’t the end of the battle.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault says the decision is disappointing but not surprising. And he says the bigger legal battle lies ahead.

Archambault says the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River tribes will continue challenging the federal government’s permission for pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners to drill under Lake Oahe. The Missouri River reservoir is the last piece of construction on the pipeline to move North Dakota oil to Illinois, and also the source of both tribes’ water.

Archambault says the tribes will push for the government to do more environmental study and to recognize the tribes’ treaty rights to clean water.

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