A U.S. federal appeals court ordered for a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline to halt construction on Friday, while the court considers an emergency request from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe arguing that the pipeline’s construction would damage sacred lands.
The order applies to any portion of the pipeline within 20 miles of Lake Oahe, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has argued has deep historical significance to the tribe and has been a crucial component of legal action against the pipeline. The appeals court will now consider whether or not to issue a longer delay on construction of the pipeline.
On September 9, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said that while the site has “undeniable importance” to the tribe, they had failed to adequately show that the pipeline’s construction would damage the area, and denied the tribe’s request to halt construction. That same day, however, the federal government said it would not authorize construction on federal lands around Lake Oahe.
The appeals court’s temporarily halt of construction reinforces the federal government’s position.
The pipeline, which would be operated by Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based energy company, would stretch for some 1,172-miles and carry oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota to a market hub in Illinois. The project would carry up to 570,000 barrels of sweet crude oil a day, and could be linked to some 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year — the same as approximately 30 average U.S. coal plants.
Native American tribes, as well as environmental and climate advocacy groups, have organized massive protests both near construction sites for the pipeline and elsewhere. On Tuesday, hundreds of protests were held across the country, from San Diego to New York. In Washington, D.C., former Democratic candidate for president Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) addressed a crowd of protesters across the street from the White House.
“This pipeline must be stopped,” Sanders said. “I am calling on President Obama today to ensure that this pipeline gets a full environmental and cultural impact analysis. In my view, if that analysis takes place, this pipeline will not continue.”
Energy Transfer Partners, which has scheduled to complete the project by the end of the year, said on Thursday that the company could lose up to $1.4 billion in a year if delays were to continue.