Tribe gets partial, temporary victory in pipeline battle

Published: Sep. 6, 2016 at 4:05 PM MDT
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An attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says it is grateful that work will be temporarily stopped on a section of a four-state oil pipeline.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said Tuesday that work will temporarily stop between State Highway 1806 and 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but that work will continue west of the highway because he believes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lacks jurisdiction on private land.

The tribe required the stoppage after a weekend confrontation between protesters and construction workers near Lake Oahe due to workers allegedly bulldozing sites that attorney Jan Hasselman said were ``of great historic and cultural significance to the tribe.''

Attorneys for Energy Transfer Partners filed court documents Tuesday morning denying that workers have destroyed any cultural sites.

Hasselman said Tuesday that the tribe was ``disappointed that some of the important sacred sites that we had found and provided evidence for will not be protected.''

Boasberg said he'll issue a decision by the end of Friday on the tribe's broader push that challenges federal regulators' decision to grant permits.

A Dakota Access attorney says if there weren't disturbances on the section of the oil pipeline that was part of a federal judge's decision, it would be completed by the end of the week.

Attorney Bill Leone said during Tuesday's hearing that there are 700 people constructing the pipeline in North Dakota. He also said that there were two more attacks on crews Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the Morton County Sheriff's Office, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners and a spokesman of environmental group Earthjustice didn't immediately respond to telephone messages requesting comment.

The fight over the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline has also hit the political stage.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has spray-painted construction equipment at the protest site in North Dakota.

A spokeswoman for Stein said Tuesday that activists invited her to leave a message at the protest site. Stein wrote ``I approve this message'' in red spray paint on the blade of a bulldozer.

Stein, who is anti-war and advocates for clean energy, camped out with protesters Monday evening.