Obama administration steps in after judge rejects legal effort to stop oil pipeline

An effort to halt construction of an oil pipeline by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was rejected by a U.S. District Judge Friday. From the NY Times:

The ruling by Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington rejected efforts by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. A lawyer for the tribe says the ruling will be appealed.

Although the $3.7 billion pipeline would not cross the reservation on its 1,170-mile path across four states, it would skirt the reservation’s northern boundary and run through what tribal officials say are ancestral lands. They say the pipeline would disrupt or destroy cultural and burial sites and could contaminate their water if it breaks or leaks as it crosses under a dammed section of the Missouri River.

However, immediately after the tribe lost in court, the Obama administration stepped in and halted construction anyway. From the Atlantic:

Mere minutes after a federal judge declined the Tribe’s request for an injunction to stop construction on the pipeline, the Obama administration made a surprise announcement that it would not permit the pipeline’s construction for the time being.

“Construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time,” said a joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Army. “We request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”…

While the government’s block is temporary, the pipeline’s future now looks much more uncertain than it did hours ago. Most of the pipeline will be built on private land owned by Energy Transfer Partners, but it still needs Army Corps approval to cross federal waterways. Given the outcry from climate activists, the Obama administration may be more willing to cancel the pipeline’s federal permits, as it did with the Keystone XL pipeline last year.

The effort to halt construction has already attracted the attention of celebrity environmentalists, including Leonardo DiCaprio and most of the Justice League:

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