On Sunday, December 4, federal officials announced that they will not be approving permits to allow further construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This decision comes just a day before the announced "deadline" that was given to protestors, which would have required them to leave their protesting site on December 5. In addition, thousands of veterans were said to be traveling to Standing Rock Reservation this week in support of protestors to act as protectors and provide support where it was most needed. The decision to halt construction may have dissolved what could have been a heightened conflict at Standing Rock in the coming days.
Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Department of the Army’s assistant secretary for Civil Works, said that the need to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing prompted today's announcement to halt construction.
“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,” Ms. Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
In a statement, Ms. Darcy said that "[alternative routes] would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis."
The construction is stopping just before it would have crossed under the Missouri River, which is in proximity to sacred burial grounds. This decision is a significant victory for protestors and other citizens who live in what would have been the direct path of the pipeline.
This is not the first time The Army Corps of Engineers was brought into discussions about the pipeline. President Obama announced in November that they were looking into alternative routes, but, as there was no concrete information announced until today, the decision came as a surprise to many.
Dave Archambault II, who is the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, spoke on “the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”
There are still many unanswered questions about the future of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we are grateful for the continued perseverance of protestors and water protectors.