16:55 GMT15 August 2020
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    The US government reversed within minutes on Friday a judge’s ruling, temporarily suspending construction on one of the sites of a North Dakota oil pipeline. Fierce opposition from Native Americans states that the project threatens waterways and drinking water, and desecrates sacred tribal ground.

    The news of the Fed’s intercession came minutes after US District Judge James Boasberg in Washington DC ruled that the construction of the $3.7 billion pipeline running through four states would continue as planned, despite mass protests involving members of more than 200 Native American tribes, accompanied by politicians and celebrities.

    Quickly following Boasberg’s ruling, three government agencies including the US Departments of Justice, Army and Interior, issued a joint statement that there is a necessity to "reconsider any of its [government’s] previous decisions" on construction in the vicinity of important waterways, calling on construction companies to "voluntarily pause" works within 20 mile-range around Lake Oahe.

    "This case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes' views on these types of infrastructure projects," the government agency statement reads, adding also to invite tribal leaders to a multilateral discussion on the issue.

    The initial suit to stop construction was brought by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose lands are crossed by the pipeline. They argued that permits granted to for pipeline-builder Energy Transfer Partners by the Army Corps of Engineers for more than 200 water crossings would not only desecrate sacred Native Americans sites but also lead to oil leaks into the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers, which are used for water supplies.

    Opposition to the pipeline has grown into a national movement, supported by 200 Native American tribes and public figures including Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and celebrities like actress Susan Sarandon and Shailene Woodley.

    Several rallies, including one on the day of the court decision, have been undertaken. Protesters, met with the ruling, have refused to give up.

    "The tribes' attempts to stop construction have been denied," the Red Warrior Camp said in a Facebook statement, immediately after the judge's ruling. "Stay peaceful without backing down."

    Tribes have filed a lawsuit to the court of appeals regarding Boasberg’s ruling.


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    oil, DakotaAccess, Native American, holy site, pipeline, tribe, waterway, protests, United States, North Dakota
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