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Judge drops injunction against tribal leaders in pipeline controversy

WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/09/09: On the same day that the U.S. District Court in D.C. was scheduled to rule on a suit filed by the Standing Rock Reservation against the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the latter's approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, activist gathered in Washington Square Park as a show of solidarity with Sioux tribal members staging a standoff with contractors working on the pipeline near Cannonball, North Dakota. Though the court ruling allowed for continuation of the pipeline's construction, the U.S. Justice and Interior Departments soon imposed a ban on construction under contested waterways. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/09/09: On the same day that the U.S. District Court in D.C. was scheduled to rule on a suit filed by the Standing Rock Reservation against the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the latter's approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, activist gathered in Washington Square Park as a show of solidarity with Sioux tribal members staging a standoff with contractors working on the pipeline near Cannonball, North Dakota. Though the court ruling allowed for continuation of the pipeline's construction, the U.S. Justice and Interior Departments soon imposed a ban on construction under contested waterways. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

NEAR THE STANDING ROCK SIOUX RESERVATION, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge in Bismarck has dropped a temporary restraining order against Standing Rock Sioux tribal leaders who were sued by the company developing the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Dakota Access LLC filed the complaint last month against Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II and others from interfering with pipeline construction north of the Standing Rock reservation.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled Friday that a previous restraining order was “simply an ‘obey-the-law’ injunction” and he expects the tribal leaders to protest lawfully.

Hovland noted that many of the “troublesome” protesters are “from out-of-state who have political interests in the pipeline protest and hidden agendas vastly different and far removed from the legitimate interests” of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which argues the pipeline could taint water sources and is decimating sacred sites.

 

What started in April with a few members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has become one of North Dakota’s newest and biggest communities.

Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people have set up tents and shelters near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers, joining tribal members in their fight against the Dakota Access oil pipeline to protect sacred sites and a river that’s a source of water for millions of people.

There’s a school for dozens of children, an increasingly organized system to deliver water and meals and volunteers from the health care sector.

Protesters say they’ll stay on federal land as long as it takes to stop the $3.8 billion, four-state pipeline — even in brutal winter conditions.

The pipeline company says it’s committed to finishing the project.