Native American self-styled water protectors celebrate at the Oceti Sakowin camp as news breaks that Dakota Access Pipeline construction has been halted. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Pipeline opponents celebrate as governor calls move “a serious mistake.”
By Red Power Media, Staff | Dec 04, 2016
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has decided it won’t grant an easement for construction on the final section of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Energy Transfer Partners $3.8 billion underground oil pipeline project is largely complete except for the segment underneath Lake Oahe.
The Army Corps decision is a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and thousands of demonstrators across the country who flocked to North Dakota in protest of the Dakota Access pipeline.
The route has been the subject of months of protests by the tribe and others, who have argued the pipeline threatens a water source and cultural sites.
According to Star Tribune, Corps spokeswoman Moria Kelley said in a news release Sunday that the administration will not allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said her decision was based on the need to “explore alternate routes” for the pipeline’s crossing.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement that the Corps’ decision “is a serious mistake,” “prolongs the serious problems” that law enforcement faces and “prolongs the dangerous situation” of people camping in cold, snowy conditions.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners previously said it was unwilling to reroute the project.
Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route
“Our prayers have been answered,” National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said in a statement. “This isn’t over, but it is enormously good news. All tribal peoples have prayed from the beginning for a peaceful solution, and this puts us back on track.”
The Army Corps says it intends to issue an Environmental Impact Statement with “full public input and analysis.”
“Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline,” tribal Chairman, David Archambault II said in a statement. “Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternatives routes. We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”
Archambault II said the tribe welcomed the decision, but he also sounded a note of caution saying he hoped the incoming Donald Trump administration would “respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point.”
Archambault II went on:
“When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted considerations of tribes. Treaties are paramount law and must be respected, and we welcome dialogue on how to continue to honor that moving forward. We are not opposed to energy independence, economic development, or national security concerns but we must ensure that these decisions are made with the considerations of our Indigenous peoples.”
NBC News reports, North Dakota Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer says that the Army Corps’ decision not to grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline is “a very chilling signal” for the future of infrastructure in the U.S.
Cramer said in a statement that infrastructure will be hard to build “when criminal behavior is rewarded this way,” apparently referring to the large protest encampment on federal land and the clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement. Cramer also said that “law and order” will be restored when Donald Trump takes office and that he feels bad for the Corps having to do “diligent work … only to have their Commander-in-Chief throw them under the bus.”
The federal government has ordered people to leave the main encampment, which is on Army Corps’ land, after Monday.
Demonstrators say they’re prepared to stay, and authorities say they won’t forcibly remove them.
Earlier Sunday, an organizer with Veterans Stand for Standing Rock said tribal elders had asked the military veterans not to have confrontations with law enforcement officials, adding the group is there to help out those who’ve dug in against the project.
The group had said about 2,000 veterans were coming, but it wasn’t clear how many actually arrived.
Both the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation occupy much of the western shoreline of Lake Oahe.