Citing historical injustices, environmental uncertainties and other factors, the U.S. Department of the Army is holding off on easements under the Missouri River for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and halting construction pending further review.
“The Army has determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property,” the Army said in a joint statement with the U.S. Department of the Interior on Monday November 14. “While these discussions are ongoing, construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement. The Army will work with the Tribe on a timeline that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously.”
Energy Transfer Partners has been pushing ahead hard on construction and using heavily armed North Dakota state authorities as well as private security to keep hundreds of water protectors at bay and make its self-imposed January 1, 2017, deadline for operation. It has excavated and laid pipeline almost right up to the edge of Lake Oahe, the dammed-off portion of the Missouri River that was flooded more than half a century ago for the construction. The company has even constructed a drill pad in anticipation of receiving the easements to complete the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline from the Bakken oil fields to central Iowa.
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II reacted with acceptance and gratitude to the Army Corps’ announcement, and the tribe called it a sign that President Barack Obama “is listening.”
“We are encouraged and know that the peaceful prayer and demonstration at Standing Rock have powerfully brought to light the unjust narrative suffered by tribal nations and Native Americans across the country,” Archambault said. “We call on all water protectors, as we have from the beginning, to join our voices in prayer and to share our opposition to this pipeline peacefully. The whole world is watching and where they see prayerful, peaceful resistance, they join us.”
Water protectors have been camped out near the construction site of the pipeline since April and have dogged the pipeline work at every step. More than 400 people have been arrested as they stood their ground against pepper spray, mace, rubber bullets and sound cannons, among other violent methods.
“Together we can inspire people across America and the globe to honor each other and the Earth we hold sacred,” Archambault said. “Millions of people have literally and spiritually stood with us at Standing Rock. And for this, you have our deepest thanks and gratitude. The harmful and dehumanizing tactics by the state of North Dakota and corporate bullies did not go unnoticed because of you. Not all of our prayers were answered, but this time, they were heard.”