U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Dakota Access Pipeline can wait
Today, the Army informed the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Energy Transfer Partners, and Dakota Access, LLC, that it has completed the review that it launched on September 9, 2016. The Army has determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property.
The Army invites the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to engage in discussion regarding potential conditions on an easement for the pipeline crossing that would reduce the risk of a spill or rupture, hasten detection and response to any possible spill, or otherwise enhance the protection of Lake Oahe and the Tribe’s water supplies. The Army invites discussion of the risk of a spill in light of such conditions, and whether to grant an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location. The Army continues to welcome any input that the Tribe believes is relevant to the proposed pipeline crossing or the granting of an easement.
While these discussions are ongoing, construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement. The Army will work with the Tribe on a timeline that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously.
We fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely, and urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence.
Morton County Commission Chairman Cody Schulz is disappointed.
“The scope of the federal government’s inaction is breathtaking. They have not only furthered the uncertainty of the situation and prolonged the outcome, but have at the same time refused law enforcement resources requested by the County and State to deal with a situation that is to a very large degree a federal issue,” said Schulz. “I find it more than a little hypocritical that the USACE and DOJ can stand up in a federal court and argue that all laws, regulations, rules, and policies were followed in their permitting of the project, and after a federal court agrees with them they backtrack and delay the final easement for more study.”
As of November 4, Morton County had expended about $4.4 million to protect their citizens and propety amid the protests.
of the 416 individuals arrested at that time, 35 were North Dakotans, the rest were from o ut of state. All had been released on bond. Two county dump trucks had been destroyed with fire and a number of pieces of construction equipment belonging to the buildling company had been damaged or destroyed.
It was estimated at that time that around 2,000 protesters were staying on three different camps. The largest camp was situated on U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Land without a permit.
County and State law enforcement officials continue to operate in an environment that requires balancing the tasks of protecting citizens’ rights to protest peacefully and stopping the illegal and sometimes violent actions of a faction of the protesters, Schulz said. “I have stated before that further delay puts peoples’ safety, health and life on the line. While the violent faction within the protest group is a minority, it is a real threat to law enforcement. The things law enforcement have endured include being shot at, having Molotov cocktails, rocks, sticks, bottles, cans, and feces thrown at them, having buffalo stampeded at them, being spit on, and being verbally assaulted.” Schulz also expressed a concern for those in the protest camps staying safe in in winter conditions. “North Dakota winters are hard, and further delay by the federal government also prolongs people living in tents and teepees in harsh conditions. Our goal is to keep everyone safe, including protesters, and the federal government just continues to make that more difficult.”