The U.S. government, including the Army Corps of Engineers, ordered work to stop on the Dakota Access Pipeline on federal land and urged the pipeline companies to do the same on private land despite an earlier ruling by a federal judge turning down a similar request.
The judge's decision acknowledged that an argument based on environmental harm—such as polluting the drinking water of millions—would have been stronger than the case that was made, which "asserts only that pipeline-construction activities—specifically, the grading and clearing of land—will cause irreparable injury to historic or cultural properties of great significance."
That decision likely influenced the Army's announcement, which saw the writing on the wall. The Standing Rock Sioux, and as of Thursday the Yankton Sioux Tribe, are suing the Corps for not properly consulting them before granting a construction permit.
Hundreds of tribes across the country have headed their call for support against the oil pipeline, which they say would destroy sacred and cultural sites, pollute the drinking water of millions and threaten local ecosystems.
The U.S. Departments of Justice, Army and Interior said in a joint statement released minutes after the district court made its ruling that it would block construction on federal land and suggest that the company behind the project suspend work nearby.
They added that, "this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects."
The departments said they are inviting tribes to Washington to discuss new legislation to "ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights."