The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' announcement Sunday halting construction of the Dakota Access pipeline was met with jubilation among protesters.
In the biggest blow yet to the much-contested pipeline, the Corps denied an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, a Corps reservoir on the Missouri River in North Dakota and the major source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. That segment remained the only contested portion of the 1,172-mile pipeline, which is almost complete.
Tribal members and others have protested the project for months, worried that a pipeline breach could threaten the drinking water supply.
"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," Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army's assistant secretary for civil works said in a statement Sunday afternoon. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."
Darcy said the pipeline should undergo an environmental impact statement — a process that could drag on for months. The decision means construction will likely not be completed during President Obama's remaining weeks in office.
President-elect Donald Trump's administration, widely viewed as more friendly to energy interests, could reverse the Corps' decision after he takes office Jan. 20.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault has said he sees a re-route as a major victory, but many protesters have vowed to continue the fight until the $3.8 billion project is shut down.
Could that happen?
Pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners and its backers don’t think so — four states and the Army Corps of Engineers granted permits for the pipeline, and construction is more than 75% complete — but opponents remain hopeful.
Here are a few of the areas opponents are focusing on as paths to a possible shutdown.