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7 Feb, 2017 21:00

Army Corps of Engineers to grant final Dakota Access Pipeline permit; tribe vows to fight

Army Corps of Engineers to grant final Dakota Access Pipeline permit; tribe vows to fight

The US Army Corps of Engineers will grant the final easement necessary to finish construction on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a court filing. President Donald Trump had issued an executive order to review the project quickly.

Along with stating its intentions to grant the easement, the Corps also said it would terminate its plans to prepare an environmental impact statement. That requirement was issued by the Obama administration in its waning days.

The filing of the easement was sent to the US Senate with a 24-hour notice, rather than 14 days, as required, This Week reported.

The stock for Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, rose 0.8 percent after the announcement. It had fallen 1.5 percent earlier, according to Bloomberg.

North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is expected to challenge the granting of the easement in court. As proposed, the pipeline would be built on contested land that the tribe considers sacred. It would also cross under Lake Oahe, which is the primary source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux.

“Americans have come together in support of the Tribe asking for a fair, balanced and lawful pipeline process. The environmental impact statement was wrongfully terminated. This pipeline was unfairly rerouted across our treaty lands,” Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said in a statement, vowing to “fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration.”

The easement cannot be granted legally at this time, the tribe’s attorney’s have said.

In December, at the urging of the Obama administration, the Army Corps announced it would deny Energy Transfer Partners the easement for the final stretch of the $3.8 billion, 1,170-mile pipeline, which would bring crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale region to Patoka, Illinois.

Instead, Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy asked the company to explore alternative routes for the project, the majority of which has already been built.

One of Trump’s first acts in office was to sign a presidential memoranda ordering the removal of obstacles to the construction of both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL. The new administration has said that Trump wants to  sit down with all the parties involved with the pipeline, including Native Americans, and negotiate the best deal that benefits everyone.

Trump “cares nothing for the future of our nation or people as he pushes us ever-closer to becoming a resource colony for the world,” the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a statement.

Starting last spring, thousands of protesters, including Native American tribes and environmentalists, began traveling to camps in North Dakota to demonstrate against the pipeline. In January, Archambault asked the approximately 300 remaining protesters to leave the campsites to they can be cleaned ahead of expected high waters in the coming weeks, CNBC reported. Many demonstrators had already left due to severe winter weather.