Judge denies tribes' request to block Dakota Access Pipeline's final link

A US federal judge yesterday turned down a request by Native American tribes seeking to halt construction of the final link in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The project is being opposed by activists who want to stop the 1,170-mile line.

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes had argued that they would not be able to conduct religious ceremonies at a lake they contend was surrounded by sacred ground if the project were to go ahead. The request was rejected by judge James Boasberg of the US District Court in Washington, DC.

According to commentators, the decision leaves the tribes with fewer legal options, with construction on the final uncompleted stretch currently underway.

Energy Transfer Partners LP, which is building the $3.8 billion pipeline, last week, received a final easement from US Army Corps of Engineers, after president Donald Trump issued an order to advance the project within days of assuming office in January.

''We're disappointed with today's ruling denying a temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we are not surprised," Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said in a statement.

Judge Boasberg rejected the request to temporarily block construction on the Dakota Access pipeline, saying there was no risk of immediate harm until oil started flowing.

However, the pipeline company would be required to provide weekly updates about when it expected oil to begin flowing, leaving open the possibility of further court intervention.

Judge Boasberg had set 27 February as the date for a hearing date on whether to issue a preliminary injunction at that time.

''Because there is no immediate harm because oil is not going to flow immediately, I deny the'' temporary restraining order, Boasberg said from the bench after an hour-long hearing.