Without court injunction, construction that would tunnel beneath Standing Rock Sioux’s primary source of drinking water could begin within 24 hours
The company needs the easement to complete work under Lake Oahe, following President Donald Trump’s memorandum that advised expediting review of the project. Trump took office promising to favor oil and natural gas developments as well as support new infrastructure, which has included reviving TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline.
Read the corps’ letter to Congress here (pdf).
The approval is a massive blow to DAPL opponents, who have waged a months-long resistance to the pipeline on the grounds that it violates Indigenous treaty rights and threatens access to clean water.
It comes shortly after the Obama administration ordered the corps to conduct a full environmental review of the 1,172-mile pipeline before allowing construction to continue. According to CNBC, the move is “almost certain to spark a legal battle and could lead to clashes at camps near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, where hundreds of protesters are still camped out in opposition to the project.”
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe said last week it would “pursue legal action” if the easement was granted.
The corps said it would terminate its plans to release the environmental impact statement.
Climate activist Brad Johnson wrote on Twitter that the corps is only giving the Senate 24 hours notice on the DAPL easement, rather than the required 14 days—which means that unless there is an injunction, construction will begin in 24 hours.
“By putting corporate polluter profits above the people’s well-being, future, and access to clean, safe drinking water, Donald Trump is once again showing where his priorities lie,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. “America’s president should serve the people—not Big Oil—and the movement that has captured the nation’s attention will continue to mobilize against Trump’s anti-democratic agenda.”
Chase Iron Eyes, Native American attorney and activist of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, called for water protectors to return to the camps to reengage in peaceful mass civil disobedience to stop the pipeline.
Iron Eyes assumed a leadership position at camps after the tribal chairman, Dave Archambault II, called for their dissolution after the Army Corps agreed to a full environmental assessment of the project.
“This is an emergency action,” Iron Eyes said on Facebook post earlier today, calling on water protectors to return to fight. “If you are coming, if you are self-sufficient, if you are disciplined, you are among a couple thousand people who are already coming back, including three contingents of United States veterans who intend to come and stand with us in peace and in dignity.”
See the full statement below.
Meanwhile, Archambault said the Standing Rock resistance will occur “not at the site itself.”
In a prepared statement released by Earth Justice moments ago, Archambault states:
“The drinking water of millions of Americans is now at risk. We are a sovereign nation and we will fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“Americans have come together in support of the Tribe asking for a fair, balanced and lawful pipeline process. The environmental impact statement was wrongfully terminated. This pipeline was unfairly rerouted across our treaty lands. The Trump administration – yet again – is poised to set a precedent that defies the law and the will of Americans and our allies around the world.” Attorneys for the Tribe emphasize that the easement cannot be granted legally at this time.
The Earth Justice release continues:
The Tribe will challenge any easement decision on the grounds that the EIS was wrongfully terminated. The Tribe will demand a fair, accurate and lawful environmental impact statement to identify true risks to its treaty rights, including its water supply and sacred places.
- The Tribe has asked the court for DAPL to disclose its oil spill and risk assessment records for full transparency and review by the public.
- If DAPL is successful in constructing and operating the pipeline, the Tribe will seek to shut the pipeline operations down.
- A Native Nations march on Washington is scheduled for March 10. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and tribes across the country invite allies in America and from around theworld to join the march.
“We ask that our allies join us in demanding that Congress demand a fair and accurate process,” Archambault II said.
“Our fight is no longer at the North Dakota site itself. Our fight is with Congress and the Trump administration. Meet us in Washington on March 10.”
Archambault II said he knows the Standing Rock movement has inspired people around the world to shape their world at home and abroad.
“As Native peoples, we have been knocked down again, but we will get back up, we will rise above the greed and corruption that has plagued our peoples since first contact. We call on the Native Nations of the United States to stand together, unite and fight back. Under this administration, all of our rights, everything that makes us who we are is at risk. Please respect our people and do not come to Standing Rock and instead exercise your First Amendment rights and take this fight to your respective state capitols, to your members of Congress, and to Washington, DC.”
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A version of this story was published previously by Common Dreams. Additional reporting by Deceleration.