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The months-long protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline project has seriously hurt the revenues of a casino operated by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe – the tribe that initiated the protests as a portion of the DAPL will pass through its territory.
The casino is facing a shortfall of US$6 million, in part because the protests blocked the main road leading customers from towns in the area to the complex, according to tribal officials involved in running the business. The casino funds social programs across the Standing Rock territory and the shortfall is certain to be felt in the community.
Despite the tribe’s best efforts and the help of other Native American tribes and environmental groups, the Dakota Access got the go-ahead from the White House earlier this month after President Trump signed an executive order allowing the US$3.8-billion project to proceed. The U.S. Army agreed to issue the final permit for the project, allowing construction to start.
The Standing Rock Sioux argued that the pipeline will pass through sacred lands and pose a threat to its drinking water supply as it would pass under the Lake Oahe. 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.
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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.
Protesters are still at the site, although North Dakota’s Governor Doug Burgum and the U.S. Army Corps. have set a deadline for today for the vacation of the Oceti Sakowin camp. The site needs to be vacated due to the growing risk of floods from the Missouri River as spring begins and ice starts to melt.
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.