Federal Judge Denies Restraining Order Requested by Dakota Access Protesters


On Friday the Standing Rock Sioux tribe requested an emergency restraining order aimed at halting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline claiming that there were culturally significang graves and artifacts that would be destroyed if construction continued.

The timing, I must say, was a little suspicious. The regulatory process for this pipeline has been going on for years, and just now the tribe discovers culturally significant areas along the route? And they file for a restraining order late on a Friday before a holiday weekend?

Sounds…calculated to me. And, unfortunately, over the weekend when the pipeline company continued construction (because no judge had ruled on the restraining order) a mob of angry protesters stormed the work site and attacked a group of security guards there. They say the violence was justified because the construction company was destroying graves/artifacts.

Today Federal Judge James Boasberg denied the restraining order request.

From the Associated Press:

Attorneys for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed an emergency restraining order over the weekend following a clash between protesters, pipeline workers and a private security team with dogs.

It happened at a site tribal members said contained culturally sacred sites.

Energy Transfer Partners responded in federal court today saying they have not destroyed any important historical sites.

Court documents show the company also denies accelerating its construction schedule.

Judge James Boasberg ruled this afternoon to deny that emergency restraining order

“Today’s denial of a temporary restraining order against Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) west of Lake Oahe puts my people’s sacred places at further risk of ruin and desecration,” Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault said in a press release responding to the ruling. “We are disappointed that the U.S. District Court’s decision does not prevent DAPL from destroying our sacred sites as we await a ruling on our original motion to stop construction of the pipeline.”

Judge Boasberg did order a short work stoppage on a portion of the pipeline, but that’s related to the tribe’s original motion to stop work because of what they allege are permitting problems with the portion of the pipeline going under the Missouri River/Lake Oahe.

His order allows work west of Highway 1806 to continue, but stops work from that highway to 20 miles east of Lake Oahe. Looking at the pipeline route map (see below), that looks like a work stoppage from about 2 miles east of the Missouri River/Lake Oahe crossing the Linton, ND, area. That halt on work will last until Boasberg rules on the original motion which he says will come by the end of Friday.

All in all, I’d count this as a win for the pipeline. The violence from the protesters over the weekend now looks completely unwarranted, and outside of a small area of dispute the judge is allowing the larger work of constructing the pipeline to continue.

CORRECTION: In the original version of this post I referred to Lisbon, ND. The correct city is Linton, ND. It’s been corrected.