US Army Corps of Engineers denies DAPL easement for Lake Oahe

MORTON COUNTY, ND - Update 11:45 p.m.: Energy Transfer Partners, Dakota Access LLC's parent company, issued the following statement.
"Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL) announced that the Administration’s statement today that it would not at this time issue an “easement” to Dakota Access Pipeline is a purely political action – which the Administration concedes when it states it has made a “policy decision” – Washington code for a political decision. This is nothing new from this Administration, since over the last four months the Administration has demonstrated by its action and inaction that it intended to delay a decision in this matter until President Obama is out of office.

For more than three years now, Dakota Access Pipeline has done nothing but play by the rules. The Army Corps of Engineers agrees, and has said so publicly and in federal court filings. The Corps’ review process and its decisions have been ratified by two federal courts. The Army Corps confirmed this again today when it stated its “policy decision” does “not alter the Army’s position that the Corps’ prior reviews and actions have comported with legal requirements.”

In spite of consistently stating at every turn that the permit for the crossing of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe granted in July 2016, comported with all legal requirements, including the use of an environmental assessment, rather than an environmental impact statement, the Army Corps now seeks to engage in additional review and analysis of alternative locations for the pipeline.

The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.

As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way."

Original Story:

The US Army Corps of Engineers has denied the final permit of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Some outlets are reporting the denial is to allow for a full environmental impact study and a possible reroute.

In a statment, Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II says, “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. We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision.

We want to thank everyone who played a role in advocating for this cause. We thank the tribal youth who initiated this movement. We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause. We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us, and the tens of thousands who donated time, talent, and money to our efforts to stand against this pipeline in the name of protecting our water. We especially thank all of the other tribal nations and jurisdictions who stood in solidarity with us, and we stand ready to stand with you if and when your people are in need.

Throughout this effort I have stressed the importance of acting at all times in a peaceful and prayerful manner – and that is how we will respond to this decision. With this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families and loved ones, many of whom have sacrificed as well. We look forward to celebrating in wopila, in thanks, in the coming days.

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. When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted considerations of tribes.

Treaties are paramount law and must be respected, and we welcome dialogue on how to continue to honor that moving forward. We are not opposed to energy independence, economic development, or national security concerns but we must ensure that these decisions are made with the considerations of our Indigenous peoples.

To our local law enforcement, I hope that we can work together to heal our relationship as we all work to protect the lives and safety of our people. I recognize the extreme stress that the situation caused and look forward to a future that reflects more mutual understanding and respect.

Again, we are deeply appreciative that the Obama Administration took the time and effort to genuinely consider the broad spectrum of tribal concerns. In a system that has continuously been stacked against us from every angle, it took tremendous courage to take a new approach to our nation-to-nation relationship, and we will be forever grateful."

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., responded to the news, saying in a statement, "“I hoped even a lawless president wouldn’t continue to ignore the rule of law. However, it was becoming increasingly clear he was punting this issue down the road. Today’s unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country. Roads, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, wind farms and water lines will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build when criminal behavior is rewarded this way. In my conversation with Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy today, she was unable to give any legal reasons for the decision and could not answer any questions about rerouting the pipeline. I’m encouraged we will restore law and order next month when we get a President who will not thumb his nose at the rule of law. I feel badly for the Corps of Engineers because of the diligent work it did on this project, only to have their Commander-in-Chief throw them under the bus. But he’s been doing that to the military for eight years, so why not one more time on his way out the door.”​

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., says in a statment, "“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.”

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, R-N.D., says in a statement, "“The decision today by the Obama Administration to further postpone any action on the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline is a serious mistake. 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.

“The federal courts have already determined that the project developer has met or exceeded all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ requirements to build the pipeline.

“Senator Hoeven, Congressman Cramer and I have repeatedly asked for the easement to be granted and for the pipeline crossing to move forward so that the federal government can bring this to a conclusion. It’s unfortunate that this project has become a political issue rather than one based on engineering science.”"

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., says in a statment, "“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.”