President Trump’s executive order last week gave the US Army Corps of Engineers the autonomy of deciding how to continue with the Dakota Access Pipeline; should they follow through with the Environmental Impact Statement that water protectors at Standing Rock have been demanding or ignore the protests and resume with the construction of DAPL through the segment running under Lake Oahe in order to complete the pipeline?
Although the announcement is not yet official, it appears that the Army Corps will be going with the latter option. Senator John Hoeven gave the following statement after speaking with Vice President Pence and Acting Secretary of the Army, Robert Speer:
“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. 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.
“Building new energy infrastructure with the latest safeguards and technology is the safest and most environmentally sound way to move energy from where it is produced to where people need it.
“We are also working with the Corps, the Department of Justice, the Department of Interior and the Department of Homeland Security to secure additional federal law enforcement resources to support state and local law enforcement. On Sunday, 20 additional Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers arrived at Standing Rock to assist local authorities. Also, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has asked the protesters to leave the campsite on Corps land.”
The 1,172-miles of the Dakota Access Pipeline has already mostly been completed except for the section under North Dakota's Lake Oahe where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies have been protesting since April of last year, drawing much national and international attention to the area’s resources and the matter of human rights. Water protectors were finally rewarded with a victory last December when President Obama halted the construction of the pipeline after much wavering. Yet now they must stand to fight again.
The group said that Hoeven’s statement was “prematurely championing Trump directives to grant an easement for illegal construction,” and that “The Army Corps lacks statutory authority to simply stop the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and issue the easement. The Corps must review the Presidential Memorandum, notify Congress, and actually grant the easement.” The group insists that they have yet to receive formal notice that the EIS has been suspended or withdrawn, but promise that “If and when the easement is granted, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will vigorously pursue legal action.”
Standing Rock is encouraging allies to speak up (#StandwithStandingRock). Anyone (YOU!) can send their comments about DAPL directly to the Army Corps of Engineers until February 20, urging that the Army carry through with the EIS. Approximately 70,000 letters have been sent already.