Following days of protests, developers of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline halted construction at the North Dakota site on Tuesday. The following day, a North Dakota federal court ordered the protesters to stop blocking the construction work. Several protesters had been charged with disorderly conduct or trespassing at a construction site.
Also known as the Bakken pipeline, the line is set to cut through the Dakotas, Iowa, and Illinois diagonally. Every day it will transport up to 570,000 barrels of sweet crude oil fracked from North Dakota’s oil-rich Bakken Formation, to a market hub near Patoka, Illinois.
Most of the affected land is private farmland, but the project does run through wildlife areas and sacred Native American sites, as well as major drinking water sources like the Mississippi and the Missouri.
Federal agencies and developers have assured states that the pipeline is safe and avoids critical habitat. However, critics believe the pipeline poses an unreasonable threat to the drinking water sources and the sacred sites.
Though a restraining order is in place, the protest is likely to continue. The pipeline is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2016.