Bakken pipeline work in North Dakota on hold

After a volatile clash with protesters, developer takes brief hiatus

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WASHINGTON — A pipeline company agreed to halt until Friday construction of an oil pipeline in parts of North Dakota where a Native American tribe says it has ancient burial and prayer sites, an attorney for the company said in court Tuesday.

After violent clashes over the weekend between protesters and security officers near the construction site, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and a neighboring Native American tribe had asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Sunday for a temporary restraining order against Dakota Access, the pipeline developer.

U.S. Judge James Boasberg said Tuesday he granted in part and denied in part the temporary restraining order by agreement of the parties.

The area in which Dakota Access agreed to halt activity until Friday represented some but not all of the area requested in the temporary restraining order.

Dakota Access filed its opposition to the tribes’ request early Tuesday, accusing the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of provoking violence and breaking the law in trying to stop the pipeline.

A group of firms led by Energy Transfer Partners, of which Dakota Access is a subsidiary, is building the pipeline. The project would be the first able to bring crude oil from Bakken shale, a vast oil formation in North Dakota, to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Dakota Access had planned for the pipeline to be operational by the fourth quarter of this year. But construction has been dogged since April by protests in North Dakota.

The latest protests were triggered, the tribes said, when the pipeline company used bulldozers Saturday to destroy sacred tribal sites whose locations had been identified in court documents filed Friday.

Dakota Access said in its reply to the requested restraining order that the bulldozers were operating under the company’s construction schedule and did not destroy any important historical sites.

The tribes wanted Dakota Access restrained from working on areas of “significant cultural and historic value,” pending Boasberg’s decision on an injunction they requested last month.

The tribe asked the Army Corps of Engineers, which approved the pipeline project in July, to withdraw permits for it.

The judge reaffirmed Tuesday that he would issue a decision about the injunction by Friday.

The Corps did not oppose the tribes’ motion for the temporary restraining order. The agency said in a court document filed Sunday that “the public interest would be served by preserving peace” until the judge issues a ruling.

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