| WASHINGTON, Sept 6
WASHINGTON, Sept 6 A U.S. federal judge was
expected to decide on Tuesday whether to temporarily halt
construction of an oil pipeline in parts of North Dakota where a
Native American tribe says it has ancient burial and prayer
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 asked
the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Sunday
for a temporary restraining order against Dakota Access, the
company building the pipeline.
Dakota Access filed its opposition to the tribes' request
early on Tuesday, accusing the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of
provoking the violence and breaking the law in trying to stop
A group of firms led by Energy Transfer Partners is
building the 1,100-mile (1,770-km) pipeline. The $3.7-billion
project would be the first to bring crude oil from Bakken shale,
a vast oil formation in North Dakota, directly to refineries in
the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Dakota Access, the limited liability company carrying out
the actual construction, 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 weekend protests were triggered, the tribes said, when
the pipeline company used bulldozers on Saturday to destroy
sacred tribal sites whose locations had been identified in court
documents filed on Friday.
Dakota Access said in its reply to the requested restraining
order that the bulldozers were operating under the company's
pre-planned construction schedule and did not destroy any
important historical sites.
The tribes want Dakota Access restrained from working on
areas of "significant cultural and historic value," pending a
judge's decision on an injunction they requested last month. It
asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which approved the
pipeline project in July, to withdraw permits for the project.
The federal judge overseeing the case has said in court
hearings that he would decide whether or not to grant the
injunction by Sept. 9, according to local media reports.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not oppose the tribes'
motion on Sunday for the temporary restraining order. The agency
said in a court document filed on Sunday that "the public
interest would be served by preserving peace" until the judge
issues a ruling on the injunction.
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Frances Kerry)