The Department of the Army denied an easement over the weekend that would have allowed the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to cross under Lake Oahe just a half-mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The location raised concerns about future impacts on water and environmental quality and disturbing sacred grounds. Protests near the North Dakota site have been ongoing for months.
Instead of traveling under the Army Corps of Engineers-controlled Lake Oahe, alternative routes for the pipeline will be considered through an environmental impact statement with public input and analysis, according to the Army statement announcing the denial of the easement.
In a statement released Sunday, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II praised the courage of the Obama Administration, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior in making a decision that took “steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”
Archambault thanked those involved in the movement and expressed a hope that Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, and the incoming Trump Administration would respect the decision.
“In a system that has continuously been stacked against us from every angle, it took tremendous courage to take a new approach to our nation-to-nation relationship, and we will be forever grateful,” Archambault said.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement published Sunday that the Justice Department is committed to supporting both local law enforcement and protecting protesters’ right to free speech.
“We recognize the strong feelings that exist in connection with this issue, but it is imperative that all parties express their views peacefully and join us in support of a deliberate and reasonable process for de-escalation and healing,” Lynch said.
The 1,172 mile, multi-billion-dollar pipeline project angles across four states and is projected to transport roughly 470,000 barrels of oil a day once it is completed.
Last week, before Sunday’s announcement, president-elect Donald Trump voiced his support for the pipeline.
Energy Transfer Partners released a statement criticizing the Army’s decision, saying that the decision was politically motivated, and calling it “just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.”