Army Corps poised to approve Dakota Access pipeline, senator says

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will now grant the final easement to finish construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven (R) announced Tuesday.

“[T]he Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer informed us that he has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Sen. Hoeven said in a statement.

The senator said this latest move would allow Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, to complete the project, “which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream.”

Hoeven spokesman Don Canton told the Associated Press that this meant the easement “isn’t quite issued yet, but they plan to approve it” in a matter of days.

On its official Facebook page, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said Tuesday’s announcement was “disappointing,” but “unfortunately not surprising.”

The tribe also wrote that the senator’s announcement didn’t mean it was a “formal issuance of the easement.”

“It is notification that the easement is imminent. The Corps still must take into consideration the various factors mentioned in the Presidential Memorandum, notify Congress, and actually grant the easement,” the tribe wrote.

“If and when the easement is granted, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will vigorously pursue legal action,” the tribe added.

The Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline were put on hold during the Obama administration. But new executive orders by President Trump begin putting them back on track, as part of efforts to undo former President Obama’s legacy. How do these moves fit into the broader Trump agenda for energy and the environment? William Brangham talks with Valerie Volcovici of Reuters.

Approval of the easement would reverse the Army Corp’s decision in December to halt construction of the 1,172-mile oil pipeline under a reservoir north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Then, the federal agency said it wouldn’t approve final permits for the project until further environmental review. The Army also said it would explore alternate routes for the $3.8 billion project.

Last week, however, President Donald Trump signed executive actions that sought to expedite these reviews, helping to clear the way for the construction of several oil pipelines, including the Dakota Access project.

“I am to a large extent an environmentalist. I believe in it, but it’s out of control,” Trump said on the same day he signed these execution actions.

Following news of the pipeline’s green light, Rep. Kevin Cramer released a video statement on Twitter that praised the Army’s decision, adding that he was “grateful” for the Trump administration.

“President Trump has proven to be a man of action and I am grateful for his commitment to this and other critical infrastructure projects so vital to our nation,” the North Dakota Republican said in a statement.

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, told the NewsHour in November that the pipeline was going to be built under a Trump presidency.

The Standing Rock Sioux recently made a call for demonstrators to leave the North Dakota encampment that has been the site of months-long protests against the pipeline. Camp organizers also initiated a clean-up effort this week to prevent waste left behind by the protesters from contaminating nearby water sources.

READ MORE: What’s next in the fight against Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines?

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