Sunday afternoon, hundreds of thousands of “water protectors” celebrated around the world – and specifically at the Standing Rock protest camp near Cannon Ball, ND – as word spread of the US Army Corps’ decision to deny an easement to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners (SLP) for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, said in a statement:
“The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.”
Darcy added that the decision was based on the need to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.
“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do. The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
Supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have been protesting the development of the DAPL since April because of the threat it poses to sacred burial grounds as well as the Missouri River. There is concern that ‘human error’ will result in a pipeline spill, and that the tribe’s only source of clean water will be contaminated.
Despite these concerns, ETP and SXL have pressed on to finish the $3.7 billion pipeline which may offer more jobs in a struggling economy. Three federal mandates were issued to halt the construction of the DAPL in recent months, but development continued nonetheless. It’s because of this that protestors began to blockade bridges and put themselves in danger to raise awareness about the issue. Activists have been maced, tased, shot with rubber bullets, beaten with batons, and hosed down with water canons in freezing temperatures to stop the DAPL’s construction.
Finally, on Sunday, the US Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, meaning the DAPL would need to be rerouted. Shortly after that declaration, however, ETP and SXL released their own statement, making it very clear that the companies have no intention of delaying or stopping construction.
The statement reads:
“As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”
ETP and SXL call the Army Corps’ decision a ‘purely political’ one and maintain that all legal requirements have been met in the past. Therefore, construction will continue. Because of this, water protectors are urged to continue camping out. A ‘victory’ might have been obtained yesterday, but the ‘fight’ is far from over.
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