Over the weekend, attention in the oil and gas industry was turned to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest. Protesters celebrated a standoff near Cannonball that ultimately led to the announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the easement that would allow the almost complete pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy said she based her decision on a need to explore alternate routes for the pipeline’s crossing, according to the Army’s website on Dec. 4. The Corps delayed the decision in November to allow for further discussions about the proposed crossing, which is located a half mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
The U.S. Army article reported Darcy said that the consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis.
According to Slate, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said, “We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude 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. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision.”
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that the announcement “underscores that tribal rights are essential components to analysis of DAPL going forward,” in a tweet on Sunday. Her released statement said, “The thoughtful approach established by the Army today ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts, as envisioned by NEPA. The Army’s announcement underscores that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as Nation-to-Nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components of the analysis to be undertaken in the environmental impact statement going forward.”
A celebratory pow-wow is in the works to celebrate the victory, yet most don’t believe that this is the end to the Lake Oahe crossing of the DAPL. President-elect Trump, who also owns stock in the pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, said Trump supports construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and will review the situation after inauguration on January 20.
North Dakota Representative Kevin Cramer, a strong Trump supporter and long-time advocate for oil production in North Dakota, said Sunday’s announcement was a “chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country. He also said, “I can’t wait for the adults to be in charge on Jan. 20.”
Energy Transfer Partners also announced it has no plans to reroute the pipeline and are still adamant on finishing the pipeline with its current route in place.
A press release issued Sunday stated, “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.”
With the announcement of the easement denial, many wonder if this means an end to the protests. Oceti Sakowin, the protest encampment now grown into a tiny city made of teepees, tents, yurts and other temporary shelters, probably won’t dissipate.
The Washington Post reports that Denise McKay, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux standing by the sacred fire Sunday afternoon, said she expects Energy Transfer Partners to push back on the decision.
“It is a temporary victory,” said McKay, 54. “We’ve got to stay put and stay united.” McKay’s daughter, Chelsea Summers, 25, chimed in, saying “everybody is still here for the long haul.”
And the “long haul” is likely to be laced with icy winds as a new winter storm moves across North Dakota. Gov. Jack Dalrymple says Sunday’s decision is a “serious mistake” that would keep protesters camping dangerously cold temperatures all winter long to make certain that DAPL remains unfinished.