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Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe sees another Dakota Access setback

Filed Under: Environment | Law | National | Politics
More on: cheyenne river sioux, dakota access pipeline, dc circuit, harold frazier, north dakota, religion
     
   

Thousands of tribal citizens and their allies march through the streets of Washington, D.C., as part of Native Nations Rise on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com / Available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was dealt another setback as a federal appeals court rejected an emergency request to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order on Saturday afternoon -- a not unusual occurrence in the closely-watched case -- denying the tribe's motion for an injunction. While the ruling does not spell the end of the dispute, it means oil will likely start flowing through the pipeline as early as Monday.

“The fight against the DAPL is far from over. The court still has to consider our treaty and trust arguments, which we think are very strong," Chairman Harold Frazier said last Thursday as the tribe mounted its appeal to the D.C. Circuit.

The tribe raised religious objections to the pipeline, saying its presence in the Missouri River renders the water impure for ceremonies such as sweat lodges and coming of age rites. A federal judge on March 7, though, said Cheyenne River leaders waited too long to bring those concerns to court.

The decision prompted the tribe to take the matter to the D.C. Circuit and to seek an injunction pending appeal. The court's order said the tribe "has not satisfied the stringent requirements" for such a request.

Judge Patricia Ann Millett -- who was nominated to the court by president Barack Obama -- issued a statement noting that the tribe's religious claims have not "yet even been accepted as an issue in the litigation."

Despite the setback, the tribe is still hoping to stop the pipeline through other legal means. A motion to set aside the Trump administration's approval of the project is pending before Judge James E. Boasberg although it's highly likely oil will be flowing before he reaches a decision.

The 1,172-mile pipeline is all but finished except for a small segment on federally-managed land in North Dakota. A status update is expected later on Monday and could finally offer a firm date for the project's completion.

D.C Circuit Court of Appeals Order:
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (March 18, 2018)

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