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The Dakota Access pipeline project, hampered by months of protests that led to a suspension by the Obama administration, has now received the approval of the U.S. Army, after President Trump signed an executive order allowing the project to proceed.
According to a court filing, the Army will issue a permit for the final stretch of the pipeline – the one that was disputed by environmentalists and Native American tribes – and construction could begin as soon as June.
The US$3.8-billion project sparked opposition from a local tribal community, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who argued it will pass through sacred lands and pose a threat to its drinking water supply as it would pass under the Lake Oahe. The Standing Rock was joined by environmental activists at the site of the pipeline, in North Dakota, where they spent several months protesting.
Prompted by the opposition, the then Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy refused to grant the Army’s permit to Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access project, on the grounds that a new environmental study was necessary. The decision was made despite the findings of an earlier 2016 study, which concluded that the pipeline would pose no significant threat to the local community’s drinking water.
Related: Keystone XL Needs Much Higher Oil Prices To Be Viable
As the administration changed, with the energy industry high on Trump’s agenda, it was only a matter of time for the project to get the approval of the White House, and it did not take long. Approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was the last hurdle that the project needed to clear.
Opposition continues, however, with the Standing Rock vowing to continue the fight. Support is also strong. The latest news in this respect came from Seattle, whose City Council voted unanimously to sever all ties with banking major Wells Fargo because of its involvement as lender with the pipeline project.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.