Monday, December 05, 2016

Corps denies Dakota pipeline crossing, but builder sticks to plan, anticipating approval by Trump

InsideClimate News graphic
Native Americans protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline scored at least a temporary victory Sunday when the Army of Corps of Engineers announced it "would not approve an easement to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Lake Oahe section of the Missouri River," Caroline Grueskin reports for The Bismarck Tribune. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe said they feared a spill could leak into the river, their main source of water.

Despite the disapproval, Energy Transfer Partners, the project's builder, "is under no legal obligation to stop construction on the Dakota Access project and hasn’t voluntarily agreed to do so," Tim Loh writes for Bloomberg. Loh adds, "It has finished 84 percent of the project and is pushing ahead with construction wherever it’s permitted, including in Iowa."

President-elect Donald Trump, who has had stocks in Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66, which owns one-quarter of the pipeline, said Thursday he supports the project, reports BBC News. After his election, ETP said it expected to complete the pipeline; after the Corps announcement, it said there would be no detours. Monday, a Trump spokesman said the president-elect still supports the pipeline and after taking office "will make the appropriate determination at that time."

Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said the decision "merits additional analysis, more rigorous exploration and evaluation of reasonable siting alternatives and greater public and tribal participation and comments. Accordingly, the Army will not grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location based on the current record."

"Darcy recommended the corps conduct an environmental impact statement with 'broad public input and analysis' before determining any appropriate route," Grueskin writes. "Among the considerations would be more information on the alternative routes, including the one crossing north of Bismarck, details on potential spills and impact on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's water intake and the extent of the tribe's treaty rights in Lake Oahe."

While protesters applauded the decision, Republican Gov. Jacky Dalrymple called it a "serious mistake," Grueskin writes. He said in a statement: "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. It’s unfortunate that this project has become a political issue rather than one based on engineering science." (Read more)

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