Blog: Dakota Access Pipeline Stalled for Impact Report

After months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Obama Administration has denied the final permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Sunday it would not grant permission for the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River and ordered that the project undergo an environmental review.

Protesters, also called Water Protectors, have been subjected to torment by militarized police and private security hired by Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, including attack dogs, mace, rubber bullets and water cannons in freezing temperatures. Hundreds have been injured, some seriously.

Energy Transfer Partners has ignored Sioux opposition for the past two years during which the route was altered. The original route near the state capitol of Bismarck was moved because it would have threatened the city’s water supply. However, they rerouted it to within one half mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Tribal Council has fought the new route on grounds that it would disturb sacred lands and put at risk the tribe’s drinking water and that of 17 million other users.

Many organizations, including the League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice and, have joined the tribe in protest. Earthjustice attorneys earlier this year worked with the tribe to file a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers saying it should never have received permits without a thorough and meaningful discussion of potential risks to the affected Indian tribes. 

The Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to a full environmental impact statement to be prepared and approved before the final portion of the pipeline can be completed. It’s been said that the oil will be shipped to Asia and won’t benefit this country at all.

So, now the protesters can come in out of the cold and return to their reservation homes, at least for the time being. Television news outlets have shown disgusting pictures of the protesters being hosed down by police wielding water cannons during winter weather. 

This country has a sad history of maltreatment of its native tribes and refusing to abide by treaties signed by the tribes in good faith. It’s anybody’s guess whether or not the corps will honor the terms of any environmental impact statement produced.

We’re reminded of the long fight over the Keystone XL pipeline that would have threatened water supplies for a huge amount of the nation’s midsection. Because it crossed national borders in connecting Canada’s tar sands oil fields with refineries in Texas, permits were required of the State Department, which ultimately refused.

President-elect Donald Trump has said he supports the pipeline, failing to admit that he owns stock in the company that plans to build it. Wells Fargo Bank in Billings was mobbed on Sunday by local protesters that object to the banks’ financing of the project.

They said direct action provides a viable roadmap for stopping pipelines and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

But the fight isn’t over yet. The oil industry says it will battle to the end. The companies behind the pipeline released a statement that they “fully expect to complete construction.” 

Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica wrote that the Obama Administration will not be granting the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

We’ll have to wait and see if the water protectors go home for a while or sit it out in the freezing weather. My guess is they’ll go home for the holidays and begin again when the environmental impact statement is released and studied.

The question concerning many environmentalists is whether Trump will pursue the issue. 

Is this just another of his business interests that he refuses to put in a blind trust? If so, there may be more spats in the offing. Having already dismissed climate change as a hoax, the president-elect will either have to walk that back or hand it over to one of his appointees for the transition. Since the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice are involved, we’ll see who is appointed and who will win in this extraordinary contest of wills.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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