Society

Judge Right To Halt North Dakota Pipeline Work

| by Mark Jones
The Bakken/Dakota Access Pipeline runs between farms in North Dakota. The Bakken/Dakota Access Pipeline runs between farms in North Dakota.

A federal judge was right to grant a partial halt to pipeline work in response to a protest led by members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

On Sept. 4, Native Americans and environmentalists gathered at a construction site to protest a $3.8 billion pipeline project. Upon completion, the 1,168-mile pipeline would span four states, according to NPR. 

Part of the extensive pipeline crosses through land the Standing Rock Sioux tribe would like to protect. Aside from possibly contaminating the water and disrupting the natural habitats of plants and animals, the construction is encroaching on lands of great importance to the Sioux tribe.

Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s cultural expert Tim Mentz Sr. explained in court that the land undergoing construction contains human remains of Sioux tribe ancestors, according to ABC News.

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Protests turned violent on Sept. 4. Protesters said security dogs bit a child and five other people, according to The Denver Post. Around 30 people were also reportedly pepper-sprayed by security guards.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein showed her support at the protest by spray-painting “I approve this message” on the blade of a bulldozer, according to ABC News. Stein remained present throughout the protest.

In light of the passion and emotion underlying the protests and the controversy that the construction has caused, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg was right to call for a temporary halt to the construction.

The Bismark Tribune called the ruling “a mixed victory for both sides.” 

A decision to ignore the protest completely would be disrespectful. The land in question is sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and its people deserve to advocate for the protection of their land.

On the other hand, completely shutting down the project would be illogical. The project has already started, and a great deal of money has gone into the project.

Calling for a temporary halt was the best decision the judge could have made. As a federal judge, Boasberg needed to find a compromise that would appease both supporters and protesters of the pipeline project briefly.

Prairie Public News reports that construction will stop temporarily for 20 miles east of North Dakota State Highway 1806. The ruling allows construction to continue west of the highway.

After environmental reviews, Boasberg will release an official ruling about the construction on Sept. 9, providing adequate time for both sides to look at the situation calmly and for officials to make an informed decision. 

Sources: ABC, NPR, Prairie Public News, The Denver Post, Bismark Tribune / Photo credit: Tony Webster/Flickr

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