The Dakota Access Pipeline protesters just celebrated a major victory as the Army Corps announced it will deny a permit for a key section of the 1,172 mile Dakota Access Pipeline. The controversial pipeline was supposed to be placed under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, only half a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation – a move that protesters argued could easily poison the reservation’s water supply if the pipe burst. The Army Corps is now planning to look for an alternate route for the pipeline with a less significant environmental impact.
Over the past several months, thousands of protesters gathered to support the Standing Rock tribe in their fight against the pipeline. Today, the self-styled “water protectors” are celebrating their victory – but they also warn that there is still more work to be done. The Army Corps’ decision doesn’t mark an end to the pipeline, simply a change in plans. It’s possible the new proposed route will also be problematic, and there are plenty of environmental activists who don’t consider further construction of the project to be a victory, no matter how it’s routed.
Tribal leaders have also expressed concern that the victory may be short-lived: Donald Trump’s administration may seek to overturn the decision once he takes office in January. He’s already spoken out in favor of the pipeline after the developers donated over $100,000 to his presidential campaign. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise—Trump’s also promised to help push through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama vetoed a year ago.
If Trump does decide to try to override the decision, he’ll have an uphill battle ahead of him. While the Army Corps’ announcement effectively shuts down the final leg of construction on the pipeline, it’s not an outright denial that could be overturned with a simple executive decision. The denial of the permit has set in motion an entire environmental impact assessment, which will likely take some time to complete. Attorneys for environmentalist groups like Earthjustice are already prepared to meet Trump in court should he challenge the decision.
In the meantime, the Standing Rock protesters have issued a statement calling for a permanent stop to the construction, and for criminal charges to be dropped against members of the group who have been arrested for civil disobedience over the past nine months. So far, a staggering 550 protesters have been arrested and charged. Energy Transfer Partners, the developer, intends to continue pushing for a permit to complete construction without rerouting.
Via Huffington Post