The federal government on Sunday denied the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access pipeline’s route under the Missouri River.
The announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers came as veterans streamed into the camps over the weekend in cars and buses to offer their support to the tribe in its months-long battle. The veterans event had raised more than $1 million dollars in response to violent assaults on the demonstrators by law enforcement. The veterans said they would shield the demonstrators.
The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works announced today.
Jo-Ellen Darcy said she based her decision on a need to explore alternate routes for the Dakota Access pipeline crossing.
“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,” Darcy said in the announcement. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
Darcy said that the consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an environmental impact statement with full public input and analysis.
Dallas Goldtooth, a lead organizer at Standing Rock and the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a Facebook statement that this is a tremendous victory for the tribe and for everyone who supported Standing Rock. However, he cautioned that this is not “a clear cut denial of the pipeline” but rather a plan to look at re-routing. Basically, he said, for the remainder of this administration, this pipeline route will not receive approval. “It’s a demonstration that we are on the verge of winning this fight.”
In an interview Sunday broadcast from Sacred Stone Camp, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II called the decision a blessing and that for now, “I would say that it’s over.”
In an official statement, Archambault acknowledged that much could change once President-elect Trump takes office. Archambault said he hoped the incoming Trump administration would “respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point.” Trump has recently discussed his support for the pipeline and could overturn the Army Corps decision when he takes office on Jan. 20.
Archambault said: “We 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.”
The Numbers Behind the Standing Rock Victory
3,000 veterans estimated arriving over the weekend.
2 years of opposition to the pipeline by the tribe.
8 months of demonstrations and encampments. The first was April 2016.
8,250 living on Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
6,000 total water protectors on average occupying camps. Weekend numbers are higher. MSNBC reported 10,000 at the camps on Sunday.
4,000 camped at Oceti Sakowin on treaty land that the Army Corps of Engineers manages.
$1,000 potential fine for not vacating the Oceti Sakowin camp by Dec. 5.
$17 million borrowed from Bank of North Dakota for law enforcement to deal with protesters.
1.3 million Facebook users have “checked in” at Standing Rock in a solidarity campaign to thwart number-tracking by police.
$3.8 billion to build the pipeline.
$450 million in delay costs so far to Energy Transfer.
38 banks offered Energy Transfer a credit line of $10.25 billion for building the pipeline.
71,000 miles of pipeline owned by Energy Transfer.
17 million people downstream of the planned Oahe/Missouri pipeline crossing depend on Missouri for drinking.
470,000 barrels a day of Bakken crude carried by completed pipeline by Jan. 1.
1,300 law enforcement from 10 states and 76 different agencies contributed police.
500 National Guard activated by North Dakota governor last week.
$100,000 donation from Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
44 days until Donald Trump takes office, presiding over the Army Corps of Engineers, the Justice Department, and the Department of the Interior.
Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Tracy is the editorial director at YES!
First published by YES! Magazine