Protesters, officers gird for pipeline ruling, but restarting construction may wait regardless
Category: Fields and StreamsVia: community • 7 years ago • 16 comments
NEAR CANNON BALL, N.D.—Construction won't immediately restart on a $3.8 billion pipeline if a judge rules against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after a court hearing Wednesday, Aug. 24.
Dakota Access LLC, which temporarily stopped construction last week amid growing tribal protests near the pipeline's planned crossing of the Missouri River, will wait for law enforcement to determine it's safe to resume construction, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said Wednesday morning.
That call will depend on how protesters react to the ruling, if it's favorable to Dakota Access, Kirchmeier said.
"We've done everything we possibly could to make sure this stays safe," he said.
Law enforcement officers met with tribal leaders and protest organizers Wednesday morning and had a "positive dialogue," the sheriff said. There are 40 officers on site near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers, which has drawn 2,000-some protesters camped nearby, many from tribes across the region and the country. Fargo police officers and deputies from Cass and Grand Forks counties are among the agencies assisting Morton County deputies.
Standing Rock members oppose the river crossing, fearing a pipeline leak would contaminate their water supply and other sacred sites. The tribe is represented by the environmental law group Earthjustice in the lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over permits issued for the pipeline, which would cross the Missouri River a half-mile north of the reservation and be the largest oil pipeline from the Bakken oil fields, moving 450,000 barrels per day to Patoka, Ill.
Dakota Access temporarily stopped construction near the river crossing site as protests ramped up, leading to 29 arrests for trespassing or disorderly conduct.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., will consider Wednesday the tribe's request for an injunction that would effectively halt construction of the 1,172-mile pipeline. A lawyer for the tribe said the judge has indicated he will rule from the bench or shortly after the hearing.