A federal judge rejected a request Tuesday to temporarily stop construction of an oil pipeline through Native American lands in North Dakota — the latest federal decision in a hotly contested case that has persisted for nearly a year.
Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected a request from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe asking for an injunction to withdraw permission issued by the Army Corps for the last link of the oil pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.
On the same day, protesters — some of them from the Standing Rock tribe — set up teepees near the Washington monument in the nation's capital, where they plan to stay until Friday when they will march to the White House.
"They want us to believe the fight is over — but we can still win this. We can unite in peaceful, prayerful resistance against this illegal pipeline," Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe told Native News Online. "Now, we are calling on all our Native relatives and allies to rise with us. We must march against injustice — Native nations cannot continue to be pushed aside to benefit corporate interests and government whim."
Native Americans and environmental activists had lived at a camp on the site since August fighting construction of the pipeline, which they say threatens the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's water resources and disregards the land's sacred status.
At the height of the protests, thousands lived at the site, but its population dwindled to just a couple of hundred as the pipeline battle moved into the courts. The camp was completely evacuated on February 22.
The 1,885-kilometer (1,171-mile) pipeline, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, is mostly complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir in North Dakota formed by a dam on the Missouri River. It is designed to transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois.
The protests have been led by Native American tribes, particularly the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux, whose reservations are downstream from the construction site.
In September, the Obama administration temporarily blocked construction in hopes of conducting a review of the project, but a federal court later ruled the project could continue.