A federal court in North Dakota has issued an injunction blocking construction of the Dakota access pipeline that has stalled the project for years, but a federal judge has blocked the entire project.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a 5-4 decision on Monday, said the government did not have standing to stop the pipeline’s construction because it does not have any standing to enforce a federal law that requires the company to give up the easement it needs to cross a river that runs through it.
The decision does not directly address the merits of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s challenge to the project.
It is the latest blow for the Trump administration’s efforts to speed construction on the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois and across the Missouri River.
A separate pipeline to ship crude oil to Texas is also in the pipeline mix, but the Standing Stones have been opposed to the two projects.
The Standing Rock protesters say they will continue fighting the pipeline through a lawsuit that could ultimately reach the Supreme Court.
The pipeline would cross a Missouri River that divides North and South Dakota.
The Obama administration in 2015 rejected a legal challenge to construction of a separate pipeline from the Dakota to Texas project, saying it would “jeopardize tribal sovereignty.”
A federal judge in Wisconsin last year ordered the U.P. to stop construction of both pipelines.