A federal judge has denied a last-minute plea to stop the Dakota Access pipeline, allowing the $3.8 billion oil pipeline to begin operating as early as next week.
U.S. District Court Judge James A. Boasberg ruled Tuesday that the Cheyenne River Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux are unlikely to prevail on the merits of their challenge to his March 7 decision, saying that the court “believes that Plaintiff does not have a strong case on appeal.”
A status report filed Monday by Dakota Access LLC said oil is expected to start flowing through the North Dakota section of the 1,172-mile, four-state pipeline between March 20 and March 22, “depending upon the success of the testing.”
Another status report is expected to be filed with the court Monday.
The tribes had asked for a preliminary injunction to stop the pipeline on religious grounds, arguing that flowing oil underneath Lake Oahe would desecrate the water, which is sacred to the tribes, and fulfill the “black snake prophecy.”
Last week, however, the judge pointed out that a natural-gas pipeline already runs under Lake Oahe, and that other oil pipelines cross the Missouri River upstream from the lake, which is man-made and only 60 years old.
Memo to the tribes: The time to express your views was when the developer called for numerous meetings during the planning stage.