Judge combines 4 tribal suits over DAPL

A federal judge has combined lawsuits filed by four Sioux tribes over the Dakota Access pipeline, streamlining the legal battle over the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota crude to Patoka, Ill.

The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River tribes joined last summer in the main lawsuit against project developers, led by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which granted pipeline permits at more than 200 water crossings.

The Yankton Sioux also sued last summer, and the Oglala Sioux filed its own lawsuit last month, the Associated Press reported.

The four Dakotas tribes basically make the same claims: The pipeline threatens cultural sites and the Missouri River, from which they get water for drinking and religious practices, Kallanish Energy reports.

“Consolidating the cases would conserve judicial resources, allow the parties to save time and expense, and enable the court and parties to schedule matters more efficiently,” Corps attorneys said in asking U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., to lump the cases together, the AP reported.

None of the tribes or ETP objected to the move, and Boasberg granted the request last week.

Cheyenne River attorney Nicole Ducheneaux asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to issue by today an “emergency” prohibition of any oil flow, until it resolves an appeal of Boasberg’s recent decision to not stop final construction, but was turned down. Boasberg also rejected a separate tribal request to stop oil from flowing.

The tribes’ appeal rests on the religion argument. Boasberg has said he doesn’t think the tribes have a strong case on appeal. He also said ETP would be “substantially harmed” by a delay in pipeline operations.