Despite recent news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not grant the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) the last remaining easement needed to drill under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, the corporations behind the project have announced that they are still committed to completing the pipeline.
“This is nothing new from this Administration (sic), since over the last four months the Administration (sic) has demonstrated by its action and inaction that it intended to delay a decision in this matter until President [Barack] Obama is out of office,” wrote Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners (SXL), two of the heavyweights funding the DAPL’s construction, in a news release.
Calling the Corps’ announcement that they will conduct a limited Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) “a purely political action — which the Administration concedes when it states it has made a ‘policy decision’ — Washington code for a political decision,” the DAPL partners heavily implied that pipeline construction under Lake Oahe will begin again when President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
The partners write:
“The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency. As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”
However, because Dakota Access LLC contractually agreed to begin transporting oil on Jan. 1, 2017, significant delays mean that oil shippers and producers have the ability to renege on using the DAPL if the pipeline misses that deadline.
Such delays could be the result of an EIS, which requires a full-blown review of the pipeline’s ecological and cultural impact, for both construction and maintenance. The public will now have a chance to comment on the pipeline, and agencies not previously allowed to weigh in — including the Departments of Interior, Justice, and the National Historic Preservation Agency — will be able to influence the decision.
In fact, it is very rare for a fully considered EIS to take less than a year, as the process requires researching and analyzing several alternatives.
The partners write:
“For more than three years now, Dakota Access Pipeline has done nothing but play by the rules. The Army Corps of Engineers agrees, and has said so publicly and in federal court filings. The Corps’ review process and its decisions have been ratified by two federal courts. The Army Corps confirmed this again today when it stated its ‘policy decision’ does ‘not alter the Army’s position that the Corps’ prior reviews and actions have comported with legal requirements.’ In spite of consistently stating at every turn that the permit for the crossing of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe granted in July 2016, comported with all legal requirements, including the use of an environmental assessment, rather than an environmental impact statement, the Army Corps now seeks to engage in additional review and analysis of alternative locations for the pipeline.”
The Corps’ decision to deny the easement came as a surprise this past Sunday, then quickly began trending on Facebook and Twitter. The news came as thousands of veterans arrived from across the country to the front lines of the protest, where violence at the hands of law enforcement had sharply escalated in recent weeks.
“The original peoples of these lands fought with all of our hearts against injustice and won. We have been maced, tased, demeaned, hit with water cannons in below freezing temperatures, we stand with the strength of our ancestors before us,” said Tara Houska, the national campaign director of Honor the Earth, upon hearing the news. “The inaction from the administration and media was answered by our refusal to back down. Let this send a message around the world: we are still here. We are empowered.”
Eryn Wise, of the International Indigenous Youth Council, added to the sentiment, saying “We’ve been fighting this fight our whole lives and now there is no doubt in our minds that our generation can change the future. We know that the next presidency stands to jeopardize our work but we are by no means backing down. We will continue protecting everywhere we go and we will continue to stand for all our relations.”
However, Trump publicly supports the pipeline’s construction. According to Mother Jones, ETP donated $100,000 to a Trump Victory Fund before the election, and disclosure forms indicate that Trump himself may have as much as $300,000 personally invested in the project.
This is more than likely why Trump’s transition team had to clarify his endorsement as having “nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans.”
Next, find out the one thing that President-elect Donald Trump needs to do if he wants Bernie Sanders’ support, before checking out what happens if the president-elect passes away before the Electoral College can vote.