The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has refused to grant a permit to Energy Transfer Partners for the construction of the hotly contested section of the Dakota Access oil pipeline that would have passed through Standing Rock Sioux lands. Hundreds of protesters who have been camping at the construction site for months now have celebrated the decision as a victory.
The decision to withhold the permit was made by the Assistant Secretary of Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, who said she made it because there were alternatives to this specific route of the Dakota Access section that could be discussed with Energy Transfer Partners. The route that sparked the vocal opposition would have passed under Lake Oahe and would have constituted a risk for the quality of drinking water in the area, according to opponents.
Energy Transfer Partners said last month that it would not reroute the pipeline, and instead, offered to open up dialogue with Standing Rock representatives in a bid to quench their fears. The Sioux tribe declined the offer.
Following Sunday’s announcement by the Army Corps, Energy Transfer Partners said that the decision was political, claiming the Obama administration was ready to do anything to delay the final decision until its term ends. Related: U.S. Oil Rig Count Climbs To A 10-Month High
The governor of North Dakota also criticized the decision to refuse ETP a permit, saying it was a serious mistake. The governor last week issued an order for the emergency evacuation of the protesters, citing adverse weather conditions. Now, he believes, the decision to delay the end of the saga will make a dangerous situation last longer.
Despite what protestors are calling a victory, the delays have also motivated the protesters to stay at their camp, disregarding the governor’s order to vacate it by Monday. Nobody knows what Donald Trump will do with the pipeline project when he steps into the White House in January, and this uncertainty has prompted the protesters to stay where they are.
Trump is a vocal supporter of the energy industry, so he may look much more kindly on the Dakota Access project than his predecessor, although his unconventional ways, as well as his for-the-people sentiments may very well result in Trump steering ETP towards a new route with palatable concessions.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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