The US government reiterated its request Monday that construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota be paused, while authorities consider the impacts of its route on a Native American tribe.
The Dakota Access Pipeline has been the subject of a months-long protest, in which Native Americans and their supporters have camped out in the state's prairie lands to block the pipeline's route underneath the Missouri River and the adjoining man-made Lake Oahe.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says the project threatens its drinking water source, and could destroy ancient sacred sites near the tribe's reservation, which is less than a mile from the pipeline.
A month ago, the federal government had asked the pipeline's operator, Energy Transfer Partners, to pause construction within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of the disputed area, while authorities evaluate the tribe's claims.
But a federal appeals court Sunday denied the tribe's request to order a temporary stop to construction, prompting the Departments of Justice, Army and Interior to once again issue a statement of support. The Army controls the permitting process for US navigable waterways.
"We also look forward to a serious discussion during a series of consultations... on whether there should be nationwide reform on the tribal consultation process for these types of infrastructure projects," the statement said.
The standoff between the Sioux tribe and the pipeline's builder has grown into a protest movement in the United States, emboldening Indian tribes, environmentalists and advocates for Native Americans.