Oil

Army halts Dakota Access Pipeline construction

Federal government wants more discussions with tribes, analysis of possible spills.

 

The Army announced Monday that after a two-month review of Dakota Access Pipeline plans, it will halt construction so that the government can consult with tribes about their concerns and decide how to move forward. A press release from the Army and Department of Interior stated, “additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property.” 

The statement marked an important acknowledgement of tribal sovereignty. The Army said it welcomes any input that tribes think is relevant to the proposed pipeline, including how to reduce the risk of a spill or rupture, protect Lake Oahe and tribal water supplies. They’re also seeking input on whether to grant an easement for the pipeline to cross the lake. No construction on or under Corps land bordering the lake will occur while these discussions are ongoing. The Army plans to work out a timeline with the tribes to complete these discussions, but did not release more information than that. 

People gather in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Flickr user Fibonacci Blue

The review was launched on Sept. 9 when construction was halted to look at the impacts of the pipeline, owned by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP and Dakota Access, LLC. In a statement earlier this month, Energy Transfer said it had “not voluntarily agreed to halt construction of the pipeline in North Dakota,” which is why protestors have been asking the federal government to intervene.

For months, hundreds of tribal members and other supporters have camped out in North Dakota with Standing Rock Sioux tribal members in protest of the pipeline. Cities across the country continue to hold protests as well. In Monday’s statement, the government said it supports peaceful protest and free speech.