Attorneys for the Trump administration want a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit from Native American tribes trying to block the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Nebraska.
Tribes in Montana and South Dakota say President Donald Trump approved the pipeline without considering potential damage to cultural sites from spills and construction.
The administration counters that Trump's approval applies only to a one-mile section of pipeline along the U.S.-Canada border and not the rest of the line.
Matt Campbell represents the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana and South Dakota's Rosebud Sioux tribe. They say Trump's action violated their rights under treaties from the mid-1800s.
“Essentially what the United States is arguing is that the president is above the law, is that he cannot be sued and that the treaties claims are meaningless and that the treaties mean nothing," Campbell said in a phone interview.
He also said the treaties were agreed to by the president of the United States and ratified by the Senate, so the treaties clearly apply.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris will preside over a Thursday hearing on the government's attempt to dismiss the case. The judge blocked the line in November, saying more environmental studies were needed. Trump circumvented that ruling in March by issuing a new permit for the $8 billion, nearly 1,200 mile project.