Final permit to be approved for constrution of the Dakota Access Pipeline
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The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmental activists were dealt a huge blow on Tuesday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the final easement needed to begin construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline. The construction of the pipeline, which was supposed to be up and running last year, was halted under former president Barack Obama. He postponed the project in order to complete an environmental impact study in response to the outcry of protests.
But according to recent documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Army indicated that they plan to suspend the study, which could delay the project by several years, in addition to suspending the 14-day waiting period required after notifying Congress of their approval to grant the easement. This means that the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners could start construction within 24 hours, PBS and The Washington Post report.
According to The Guardian, the pipeline, which when completed will be 1,172 miles long and transverse four states, is meant to transport crude oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota to a refinery near Chicago. Opponents of the pipeline are concerned that its construction will damage the environment, particularly Lake Oahe, which the pipeline will pass directly underneath, as well as disturb ancient burial grounds, The Washington Post reports.
Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II in a statement on Tuesday said, “We are a sovereign nation and we will fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration.” The tribe says it plans to challenge the easement decision and will attempt to shut down the project should construction begin.
Additionally, Archambault has asked protesters and environmental activists, who spent months living in camps near the Standing Rock reservation and pipeline construction project, to join in a planned march on Washington on March 10 instead of returning to the drilling site, The Guardian and The Washington Post report.
Although the Army’s decision is backed by the Trump administration and many congressional Republicans, the Standing Rock Tribe has vowed to take legal action.
Lawyers such as Keith Benes, a former State Department lawyer, and Jan Hasselman, a lawyer with the environmental group Earthjustice, believe opponents of the project could pose a serious obstacle since the only reason the Army has for nixing the environmental impact study were due to President Trump’s orders, PBS and The Washington Post reports.