US Army to approve completion of Dakota Access Pipeline

The US Army has been ordered to allow work on the final section of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline

Protestors initially hailed a victory as plans for the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines were shelved, but President Trump has restarted the fight

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven has confirmed that the US Army Corps of Engineers will allow the construction of the final section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, just one week after President Trump signed an executive order in support of the controversial project.

“Today, the Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer informed us that he has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline”, Hoeven said in a statement released on January 31.

“This will enable the company to complete the project, which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream.”

Just four days after taking office, President Trump signed executive orders in favour of the pipelines

The planned pipeline has been the target of months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has argued that the project will damage sacred Native American burial sites, in addition to contaminating drinking water both on the tribe’s reservation and further downstream. The tribe and its supporters also accused the US Government of approving pipeline construction without first consulting it, as required by US law when building work is proposed on Native American reservations.

In December, following months of peaceful protests from pipeline opponents, the US Army Corps of Engineers decided to explore alternative routes for the pipeline, delivering an emphatic victory for the protestors. However, just four days after taking office, newly inaugurated President Trump signed executive orders in favour of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, urging the US Army to reconsider its decision to postpone construction.

The $3.7bn pipeline is intended to transport close to 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day across four US states from North Dakota to Illinois, where it will connect with another line. The one-mile stretch adjacent to the Standing Rock reservation is now the only incomplete section of the 1,170-mile pipeline. The section is due to run underneath Lake Oahe, a large reservoir on the Missouri River.

In a January 31 statement, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe confirmed that it would be taking further legal action against the US Army’s decision to renew construction of the pipeline. The tribe argued that officials must wait for the results of a scheduled environmental impact study (EIS) that was ordered by Barack Obama’s outgoing administration earlier in January.

“The Army Corps lacks statutory authority to simply stop the EIS and issue the easement”, the tribe said in a statement. “We are ready to fight this battle against corporate interest superseding government procedure and the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans.”