People take part in a protest against the planned Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota in New York, March 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A US judge has rejected a legal challenge by Native American tribes and environmental activists to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, after President Donald Trump ordered the controversial project to continue.
Judge James Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the tribes' request for an injunction to halt the go-ahead last month by the Army Corps of Engineers for the last link of the pipeline in North Dakota.
In February, the Army Corps said it would allow the final 1.5 miles of the more than 1170-mile (1,885-km) pipeline to go under the Missouri River north of a drinking water reservation used by Native Americans.
Led by the Standing Rock Sioux, more than 100 Native American tribes have warned that the planned path would destroy their sacred sites and contaminate their water.
The Army Corps’s green-light came days after Trump signed an executive order clearing the way for the completion of the $3.8 billion pipeline, which moves crude oil from the Northern Plains to the Gulf of Mexico.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, needed only to cross beneath Lake Oahe to complete the four-state pipeline.
Campers set structures on fire in preparation of the Army Corp's  deadline to leave the Oceti Sakowin protest camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, February 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux asked the court to block the project and prevent contamination of water that they use for religious ceremonies.
The two tribes argued in their court filings that DAPL symbolizes a “terrible black snake” that, according to an ancient prophecy, would render their waters impure. They also said they would not be able to use other water resources in the region as they were already polluted because of mining over the past decades.  
Calling the request to block the project “extraordinary,” Boasberg said the arguments presented to the court were unsatisfactory. He also questioned the Cheyenne Sioux’s silence over the past two years despite knowing the project’s path.
“The tribe is disappointed in the court’s decision,” Cheyenne River’s lawyer Nicole Ducheneaux told reporters, saying that the ruling showed the government’s ignorance towards Native Americans’ sacred beliefs.
Chase Iron Eyes, lead counsel for the Lakota People's Law Project, said the decision was “unacceptable” and warned that the pipeline threatened the drinking water of 17 million people downstream.
Meanwhile, Energy Transfer said it was pleased with the ruling and planned to start pumping oil through DAPL in the coming days.

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