Members of the Standing Rock Sioux fear the pipeline could potentially contaminate their local drinking water and lands sacred to the tribe.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier said in a press conference Thursday that “construction of the Dakota Access pipeline south of Mandan [N.D.] has been stopped — for safety reasons,” as member station Prairie Public Broadcasting reported.
A spokesman for the company that is building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, told The Wall Street Journal that “construction has been halted at the protest site” ahead of a court hearing next Wednesday, but that “it continues elsewhere.”
In July, the environmental group Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, seeking an injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which authorized the pipeline’s construction. “The construction and operation of the pipeline, as authorized by the Corps, threatens the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the tribe,” the lawsuit states.
Construction on the controversial section of the pipeline started last week and is set to cross under the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, Prairie Public reported. The reservation itself “straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border,” wrote The Associated Press.
More than 1,500 protesters rallied this week near the reservation, according to the member station, including Tenille Bluebird of South Dakota’s Rosebud Sioux Reservation. “If the oil comes through, there ain’t going to be no water,” she said.
Tensions have risen between the protesters and law enforcement, Prairie Public reported:
When Sheriff Kirschmeier was speaking about “safety concerns” Thursday, he said, “There have been some instances where things have become unlawful. … Things have been taken a little bit further every day.”
As The Bismarck Tribune reported, “Dakota Access LLC, a partner …