Feds Block Final Permit for Dakota Access Pipeline (Video)

On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant the final permit needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be completed. Instead, officials said, an environmental impact review will be conducted to investigate the possibility of routing the planned 1,170-mile pipeline project in a way to prevent crossing the Missouri River.

Following months of protests, the decision is a big victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its allies, who say the pipeline will threaten drinking water supplies. The pipeline, 30 inches in diameter, is slated to transport around 470,000 barrels of oil a day, with a capacity of up to 570,000 barrels.

"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," Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Corps' assistant secretary for civil works said in a statement. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."

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Dakota Access Pipeline route; Standing Rock Indian Reservation is shown in orange. (image: NittyG/Wikipedia)

While this is good news for activists, proponents of the pipeline have a powerful ally in President-elect Donald Trump, who said Thursday that he supports its completion.

"Mr. Trump expressed his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has met or exceeded all environmental standards set forth by four states and the Army Corps of Engineers," said North Dakota Republican senator John Hoeven, on Thursday, after meeting with Trump's transition team to discuss the pipeline.

House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) hailed the announcement, saying that "President Obama has handled a difficult situation with care and concern for the equities involved." He also expressed hope that President-elect Trump would act accordingly. "It now falls to the Trump administration to follow the law, treat this entire process with the respect and seriousness it demands, and honor the sacrifices of the Americans who put themselves in harm’s way to demand justice at Standing Rock," he said.

But for now, victory, even if it may be temporary, is with the Sioux.

"For months now, Standing Rock has been the moral center of the country," said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. "The Obama administration recognized that moral stature today; it also recognized the environmental racism implicit in this misbegotten pipeline. Such thanks to the Indigenous communities that organized so prayerfully and powerfully; we will all follow their lead and stay vigilant."

U.S. Secretary for the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement that the Corps' "thoughtful approach ... ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts" and "underscores that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as Nation-to-Nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components of the analysis to be undertaken in the environmental impact statement going forward."

"The fight is not over by any means," said activist and "Gasland" filmmaker Josh Fox. "We still have hundreds of pipelines to fight across America. But I am so grateful to the Standing Rock Nation and everyone at all the camps for showing us the way. It’s given us a template. Our movement is grounded in indigenous values of respect, prayer, love, community and resilience. Our whole culture needs to learn from Standing Rock."


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