The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is telling the Standing Rock Sioux tribe it will deny an easement for the current path of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.
The news comes as veterans organized by a Black Lives Matter activist and Los Angeles screenwriter were to actively protest the pipeline path over four days. Thousands are camped out in the area to oppose the pipeline.
Native American tribe members were among those who’ve been protesting for months. Tribal members claim the pipeline could contaminate their drinking water and would disturb sacred tribal sites.
Jo-Ellen Darcy, Army assistant secretary for civil works, says, “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,” according to NBC News. The Sunday statement continued, “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard traveled to North Dakota to join with and address the veterans that had gathered to protest the project on Saturday.
Gabbard tweeted on Sunday when news came that the easement would be denied:
Chairman Archambault has announced Army Corps has DENIED the easement for DAPL – it will not be built under their water source #WaterIsLife
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 4, 2016
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II stated in response, “Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes.”
Archambault said he supported the decision and commended President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior for the decision.
“We hope that Kelcey Warren, Governor Dalrymple, and the incoming Trump administration respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point,” read a portion of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian tribe statement.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered the protesters to vacate the protest area. Dalrymple signed an official order to leave the camp due to the onset of potentially life-threatening winter weather.
Dalrymple called the Obama Administration’s decision to block the pipeline, “a serious mistake.” He went on to say that he Senator John Hoeven and Congressman Kevin Cramer had urged approval of the easement.
“It does nothing to resolve the issue, and worst of all it prolongs the serious problems faced by North Dakota law enforcement as they try to maintain public safety. The administration’s lack of action also prolongs the dangerous situation of having protesters camping during the winter on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ property,” Dalrymple said according to Valley News Live.
“It’s unfortunate that this project has become a political issue rather than one based on engineering science,” Dalrymple concluded.
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