WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday that it would further delay granting Dakota Access Pipeline its final easement.
In a news release posted to its website, the agency said it had completed the review of the 1,172-mile pipeline’s Lake Oahe easement the agency began in September, but that additional study is needed to determine whether the project offers adequate protection for the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“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 release says.
The decision is a win for the tribe and its supporters, whose encampment near Cannonball, N.D.has drawn worldwide attention to the pipeline.
Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said the win is not "100 percent," but was pleased to see that the "Water Is Life" movement has gained President Barack Obama's decision.
“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.
A day of action planned for Tuesday will see demonstrations across the U.S. and several other countries, many of which were planned outside Corps of Engineers’ offices.
Pipeline supporters decried the delay Monday evening.
“By its own review and admission, the Army Corps of Engineers did everything right. Americans expect their government to play by the rules – and this is just another example of the Obama Administration using its perceived authority to drive a political agenda,” said Craig Stevens, spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now.
The entire statement released Monday by the Army Corps of Engineers is below.
Today, the Army informed the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Energy Transfer Partners, and Dakota Access, LLC, that it has completed the review that it launched on September 9, 2016. 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 invites the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to engage in discussion regarding potential conditions on an easement for the pipeline crossing that would reduce the risk of a spill or rupture, hasten detection and response to any possible spill, or otherwise enhance the protection of Lake Oahe and the Tribe's water supplies. The Army invites discussion of the risk of a spill in light of such conditions, and whether to grant an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location. The Army continues to welcome any input that the Tribe believes is relevant to the proposed pipeline crossing or the granting of an easement.
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.
We fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely, and urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence.