The Army reversed course and decided to grant an easement necessary to finish constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline without additional environmental review or consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The announcement responds to an executive action by President Donald Trump last month and contradicts a decision by the Army Corps in December to conduct a more thorough environmental review of the project and further consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters.
In a letter to Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., top Democrat in the House Resources Committee, on Tuesday the Army also announced it would waive its normal requirement to wait 14 days after alerting Congress of its decision before granting the easement. The easement opens the way for the pipeline to go under Lake Oahe, an important water source for the reservation. The tribe vows to continue to challenge the easement, and its lawyers are poised to ask the court to block construction. Grijalva said the Army’s reversal ignores the rights of Standing Rock Sioux and the thousands of protestors who camped out for months to stand up for those rights. “In his first few weeks in office, our new President has built a résumé of discrimination, falsehoods, and sloppy work, and now the decision to trample the sovereignty of our First Americans is the latest entry on a growing list of shameful actions,” Grijalva said.
For more background, read our breakdown of Trump’s decision and the likely legal challenges to it here. Also, explore our past coverage of the Dakota Access protests and their influence on Western environmental movements here.
Correspondent Elizabeth Shogren writes HCN’s DC Dispatches from Washington. Follow @ShogrenE.