UPDATE 6-After protests, U.S. halts North Dakota pipeline near tribal lands
(Adds investor and protester reactions, North Dakota dateline)
By Ruthy Munoz and Dave Thompson
WASHINGTON/BISMARCK, North Dakota, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The Obama administration stepped into a dispute on Friday over a planned oil pipeline in North Dakota that has angered Native Americans, appealing for calm while blocking construction on federal land and asking the company behind the project to suspend work nearby.
The move came shortly after U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington rejected a request from Native Americans for a court order to block the project. The government's action reflected the success of growing protests over the proposed $3.7 billion pipeline crossing four states which have sparked a renewal of Native American activism.
"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 U.S. Departments of Justice, Army and Interior said in a joint statement released minutes after Boasberg's ruling.
Opposition to the pipeline has drawn support from 200 Native American tribes, as well as from activists and celebrities.
The Standing Rock Sioux, whose tribal lands are a half-mile south of the proposed route, say the pipeline would desecrate sacred burial and prayer sites, and could leak oil into the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers, on which the tribe relies for water.
On Friday, the tribe called the Obama administration's intervention "stunning," saying it set the stage for nationwide reform on projects affecting tribal lands.
"Our hearts are full, this an historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for tribes across the nation," tribal chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. "Our voices have been heard." Continued...