Army Denies Dakota Access Easement Under Lake Oahe; Exultation Ensues

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Federal officials with the Department of Army announced on Sunday, December 4 that they would not approve permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The denial halts construction of the $3.8 billion dollar project that has been partially stalled at the easement of the contested Missouri River, the primary water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The decision is a significant victory for the tribal nation and thousands of water protectors camped near the construction site of the pipeline project who have until tomorrow, Monday Dec. 5 to evacuate the sprawling Oceti Sakowin Camp.

In a statement released by the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy said she based her decision on a need to explore alternate routes for the 1,172 mile-long pipeline.

Water protectors stand in a peaceful ceremonial circle on Highway 1806 just south of where Backwater Bridge crosses Cantapeta Creek. Armed police have blockaded the bridge with concrete barriers, razor wire, and vehicles. (Photo: ©Amy Gulick)

“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,” said Darcy.

The federal agency is recommending an Environmental Impact Statement be conducted with full public input and analysis to explore a possible reroute of the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe argued that the existing path of the energy project threatened the Missouri River, the tribe’s water supply. Plans called for burying the pipe 90–110 feet below the Missouri River. The administration of president Barack Obama had blocked construction of easements on both sides of the river in early September. In November, Obama told Now This News that the Army Corps of Engineers was considering alternate routes for the pipeline project.