The US Federal Government denied the final permits required for the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota on Sunday. The announcement came from the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps says it will conduct an environmental impact review of the 1,170-mile pipeline project and determine if there are other ways to route it to avoid a crossing on the Missouri River.
“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,” Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said in a statement.
The announcement comes one day before the Army Corps of Engineers’ deadline for demonstrators to leave the protest site. The governor of North Dakota had also issued an emergency evacuation order.
Protestors have clashed with police, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a Sunday statement that the Department of Justice “will continue to monitor the situation in North Dakota in the days ahead” and stands “ready to provide resources to help all those who can play a constructive role in easing tensions.”
“The department remains committed to supporting local law enforcement, defending protestors’ constitutional right to free speech and fostering thoughtful dialogue on the matter,” she added.
“The safety of everyone in the area – law enforcement officers, residents and protesters alike – continues to be our foremost concern.”
Dakota Access has turned into a flashpoint in both the indigenous rights and anti-fossil fuel movement.
The tribe has said the federal government failed to consult it before approving the pipeline’s route this summer, and warned the proposed path threatens both cultural heritage sites and drinking water supplies from the Missouri River.
Sunday’s decision is a major victory for the tribe, which sued against other permitting decisions for the project, pushed the Obama administration to deny it, and rallied tribal allies and anti-pipeline activists to the cause.
“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,” tribal Chairman Dave Archambault said.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell also released a statement in support of the decision, saying it is in line with federal laws designed to assess environmental impacts of infrastructure projects.
The Dakota Access developer Energy Transfer Partners claims there are no safety hazards with the existing route, and that the project is supported President-elect Donald Trump supports the pipeline. Energy Transfers CEO Kelcy Warren has previously said the project will move forward, even if it means waiting for Trump to take office next month.
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