A crowd gathers in celebration at the Oceti Sakowin camp after it was announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won’t grant easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on Sunday, Dec. 4. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A crowd gathers in celebration at the Oceti Sakowin camp after it was announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won’t grant easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on Sunday, Dec. 4. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Federal government blocks Dakota Access oil pipeline route

By James MacPherson

Associated Press

CANNON BALL, N.D. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday that it won’t grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota, handing a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters, who argued the project would threaten the tribe’s water source and cultural sites.

North Dakota’s leaders criticized the decision, with Gov. Jack Dalrymple calling it a “serious mistake” that “prolongs the dangerous situation” of having several hundred protesters who are camped out on federal land during cold, wintry weather. U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer said it’s a “very chilling signal” for the future of infrastructure in the United States.

The four-state, $3.8 billion project is largely complete except for the now-blocked segment underneath Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said in a news release that her decision was based on the need to “explore alternate routes” for the pipeline’s crossing. Her full decision doesn’t rule out that it could cross under the reservoir or north of Bismarck.

“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

The company constructing the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, released a statement Sunday night slamming the decision as politically motivated and alleging that President Barack Obama’s administration was determined to delay the matter until he leaves office.

“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,” the company said.

President-elect Donald Trump, a pipeline supporter, will take office in January, although it wasn’t immediately clear what steps his administration would be able to take to reverse the Army Corps’ latest decision or how quickly that could happen.

The decision came a day before the government’s deadline for the several hundred people at the Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, encampment to leave the federal land. But demonstrators say they’re prepared to stay, and authorities say they won’t forcibly remove them.

As the news spread Sunday, cheers and chants of “mni wichoni” — “water is life” in Lakota Sioux — broke out among the protesters.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sunday that the Department of Justice will “continue to monitor the situation” and stands “ready to provide resources to help all those who can play a constructive role in easing tensions.”

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault didn’t immediately respond to messages left seeking comment.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, whose department has done much of the policing for the protests, said that “local law enforcement does not have an opinion” on the easement and that his department will continue to “enforce the law.”

U.S. Secretary for the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement that the Corps’ “thoughtful approach … ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts.”

Earlier Sunday, an organizer with Veterans Stand for Standing Rock said tribal elders had asked the military veterans not to have confrontations with law enforcement officials, adding the group is there to help out those who’ve dug in against the project.

About 250 veterans gathered about a mile from the main camp for a meeting with organizer Wes Clark Jr., the son of former Democratic presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark.

Some veterans will take part in a prayer ceremony Monday, during which they’ll apologize for historical detrimental conduct by the military toward Native Americans and ask for forgiveness, Clark said.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks with special ed Pre-K teacher Michelle Ling in her classroom at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue, Wash. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

A view of the courtyard leading to the main entrance of the new Stanwood High building on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

A Marysville Pilchuck football player sports a spear on his helmet as the Tomahawks took on Snohomish in the Wesco 3A Championship Friday evening at Quil Ceda Stadium on November 1, 2019. School district leaders may soon need to consider dropping Marysville Pilchuck High School’s mascot, the Tomahawks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Should Marysville Pilchuck High drop the name ‘Tomahawks’?

A state bill would ban Native American mascots and symbols from schools — unless there is tribal permission.

About a dozen metal dinosaurs sit in the front yard of a home owned by Burt Mason and Mary Saltwick on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Freeland, Washington. The couple are used to finding strangers in their yard and taking photos. Every year on their trip to Tucson, Burt and Mary bring home another figure  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Dinos on Whidbey? This Freeland yard is a Jurassic Park

These creatures from long ago won’t chomp or chase you, and you’re welcome to visit.

Maryville Getchell High School students Madison Dawson, left, Kaden Vongsa and Jenasis Lee, who made a presentation to their school board discussing mental health, lack of resources and personal stories of their peers mental health struggles. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Students plead for better mental health support from schools

Three Marysville Getchell seniors want more counselors and improved training for staff.

Parked tractor-trailers line the side of 40th Avenue NE on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Worker wonders why dead end Marysville road is rough and rutty

A stretch of 40th Avenue NE is mostly used for heavy trucking and isn’t in line for repairs soon.

Camano Island shooting leaves father dead; son arrested

Dominic Wagstaff, 21, was taken into custody late Sunday for investigation of the murder of Dean Wagstaff, 41.

People experiencing homelessness along Smith Avenue would need to find a new area to live if the Everett City Council passes a no-sit, no-lie ordinance. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Public speaks out against Everett’s no-sit, no-lie proposal

The ordinance would target homeless people near the site of a proposed village of small shelter dwellings.

Jean Shumate (left), seen here during a February 2019 school board meeting, will retire June 30 after 20 years at the Stanwood-Camano School District superintendent. (Skagit Valley Herald)
Stanwood-Camano superintendent to retire after 20 years

Jean Shumate has been at the helm longer than any other superintendent in Snohomish County.

Most Read