Protesters claim major victory: Army Corps of Engineers will not grant easement for pipeline

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(AP) – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it won’t grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota.
   Corps spokeswoman Moria Kelley said in a news release Sunday that the administration will not allow the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.
   Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said her decision was based on the need to “explore alternate routes” for the pipeline’s crossing.
   The route has been the subject of months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others, who have argued the pipeline threatens a water source and cultural sites.
   The company constructing the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and the Morton County Sheriff’s Office didn’t have immediate comment.
   The federal government has ordered people to leave the main encampment, which is on Army Corps of Engineers’ land and is close to the construction site, by Monday.
   Demonstrators say they’re prepared to stay, and federal, state and local authorities say they won’t forcibly remove the protesters.
 
Statement from Senator John Hoeven: 
 

OBAMA’S DENIAL OF EASEMENT VIOLATES THE RULE OF LAW

 

WASHINGTON — Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement in response to the Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement that the Obama administration will refuse to grant an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline project:

 

“The Obama administration’s refusal to issue an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline violates the rule of law and fails to resolve the issue. Instead, it passes the decision off to the next administration, which has already indicated it will approve the easement, and in the meantime perpetuates a difficult situation for North Dakotans.

 

“Protesters should move from their unlawful site now that the Obama administration has made its decision. By staying on the site, the protesters subject residents in the area to additional weeks of disruption and hardship.

 

“The reality is that the company has observed all proper procedures and met all environmental standards required by four states and the Corps itself. Further, refusing the easement has ramifications over the long term; if companies and individuals cannot rely on a system that follows the rule of law, nobody will risk making future investments in our country’s vital infrastructure. That will make our nation vulnerable and less secure.

 

“Our state, local and federal law enforcement officials have acted with professionalism and diligence to maintain peace and order under very difficult circumstances, but their resources are strained and they need help. Following today’s announcement by the Corps, it is incumbent on the administration to provide funding and law enforcement resources to help maintain public safety.”

 

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Statement from Senator Heidi Heitkamp: 

 

Heitkamp Statement on Army Corps Decision to Deny Dakota Access Easement under Lake Oahe


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today issued the following statement after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement for the Dakota Access pipeline to go under Lake Oahe.

 

“It’s long past time that a decision is made on the easement going under Lake Oahe,” said Heitkamp. “This administration’s delay in taking action — after I’ve pushed the White House, Army Corps, and other federal agencies for months to make a decision — means that today’s move doesn’t actually bring finality to the project. The pipeline still remains in limbo. The incoming administration already stated its support for the project and the courts have already stated twice that it appeared the Corps followed the required process in considering the permit. For the next month and a half, nothing about this project will change. For the immediate future, the safety of residents, protesters, law enforcement, and workers remains my top priority as it should for everyone involved. As some of the protesters have become increasingly violent and unlawful, and as North Dakota’s winter has already arrived – with a blizzard raging last week through the area where protesters are located — I’m hoping now that protesters will act responsibly to avoid endangering their health and safety, and move off of the Corps land north of the Cannonball River.

 

“Additionally, our federal delegation and governor have been working together in a bipartisan effort to push for more federal resources for law enforcement who have worked day and night through weekends and holidays to support the safety of our communities. The administration needs to provide those funds – whether the protesters remain or not.”

 

For the past several months, Heitkamp and her staff have been meeting regularly with local law enforcement, land owners, workers, and residents about the Dakota Access pipeline protests. She has had continued conversations with the White House, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. Department of Interior to push for a final decision on the easement going under Lake Oahe. She has also been working in a joint effort with the federal delegation and Governor Jack Dalrymple to push for federal funds to provide law enforcement with needed resources to support public safety during the ongoing demonstrations. Heitkamp recently spoke with a top official at the White House and specifically pressed him about how the president needs to act now to make a decision on whether to grant the easement and pushed for federal funds for law enforcement.

 

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