The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Tuesday that it will grant the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access pipeline, but the outcry surrounding the project is far from resolved.
In letters to House and Senate members disclosed in a court filing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Paul D. Cramer said he will issue the easement within 24 hours, citing President Trump’s memorandum Jan. 24 to expedite the Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects.
The $3.8 billion Energy Transfer Partners project has been delayed for months after the Obama administration suspended and then withdrew an approved easement for the final 1,100-foot stretch running under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.
“The corps intends to execute this easement at a time that is mutually convenient to the corps and the company, no earlier than 24 hours following the delivery of this notification letter,” said Mr. Cramer.
The letters brought relief to the pipeline’s supporters after wrangling since August with the thousands of protesters who descended upon southern North Dakota to stop the project and the Obama administration, which granted the easement in July and then repeatedly delayed it under pressure from the Standing Rock Sioux and environmental groups.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, said the approval means “we can officially say goodbye to infrastructure approvals being subject to political impulse.”
Opponents of the project were livid, insisting that they will fight the decision to cut off an environmental impact statement on the pipeline initiated last month by the Obama administration. The comment period for the review ends Feb. 20.
Standing Rock Sioux chairman Dave Archambault II said the tribe “will 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.”
“Americans have come together in support of the Tribe asking for a fair, balanced and lawful pipeline process,” Mr. Archambault said in a statement. “The environmental impact statement was wrongfully terminated. This pipeline was unfairly rerouted across our treaty lands. The Trump administration — yet again — is poised to set a precedent that defies the law and the will of Americans and our allies around the world.”
Mr. Archambault called earlier for rerouting the pipeline away from the reservation, located about a half-mile from the current route, but environmental groups made it clear that they want to stop the project altogether as part of the “keep it in the ground” movement.