To the delight of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and many environmental activists, the Army Corps of Engineers will not grant a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri River. The Army has announced its plan to “explore alternate routes.”
This is a long-awaited victory for Standing Rock Sioux tribe after months of camping out and protesting against the Pipeline.
“People have said that this is a make it or a break it, and I guess we made it,” Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, announced to a cheering crowd of protesters.
Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army Assistant secretary for civil works, said on Sunday that, “The best way to complete the work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
In spite of federal officials ordering protesters to vacate the protest area by Monday, many stayed behind, including 2,000 US military veterans, to reiterate the importance of protecting sacred tribal land and the threat of the pipeline contaminating water sources near the reservation.
In the midst of the cheering, chanting, and celebrating, Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the tribe, warns that this decision can be overturned when Trump takes office. “They [Energy Transfer Partners] can sue, and Trump can try to overturn,” Hasselman said. “But overturning it would be subject to close scrutiny by a reviewing court, and we will be watching the new administration closely.”
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said, “We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision.”
Dissenters view this is a a step backwards for the energy industry and hope that Trump will rethink the decision of the Obama administration.
House speaker, Paul Ryan has also spoken out about Obama’s decision stating, “This is big-government decision-making at its worst. I look forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind us.”
The pipeline is not cancelled only rerouted. In the coming months the Army will conduct a full environmental survey of the land to decide what the best course of action should be.