The acting secretary of the army has directed the army corps of engineers to grant the easement necessary to finish the billion-dollar project
The Dakota Access pipeline is in the final process of getting approvals to complete construction across the Missouri river, according to North Dakota senator John Hoeven.
The acting secretary of the army has directed the army corps of engineers to proceed with an easement necessary to finish the pipeline, Don Canton, spokesman for Hoeven, told the Associated Press. The easement “isn’t quite issued yet, but they plan to approve it” within days, he added.
A spokesman for the US army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jan Hasselman, lawyer representing the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, cautioned in an email that the battle wasn’t over. “People are jumping the gun, no easement has been issued,” he said, adding that he had confirmed that with the justice department.
But Hasselman added: “I’d say it’s a near certainty that they go ahead. It will be illegal of them to do so, of course, so [we] will have to litigate that.”
The Standing Rock tribe, supported by indigenous activists and environmental groups across the globe, has long argued that the $3.8bn project threatens sacred lands and the regional water supply.
In his first week in office, Trump issued an executive order demanding the revival of the Dakota Access pipeline and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both of which Barack Obama had halted. The tribe vowed to fight the order, which it said is illegal and not backed by proper consultation with Standing Rock.
Though many activists left Standing Rock after the Obama administration denied the company’s permits in December, some have remained camped out by the construction site through the harsh North Dakota winter.
Obama’s decision directed the government to conduct a full environmental review of the project, known as an environmental impact statement (EIS), which is a process that the tribe has long demanded.
In a statement released Tuesday night, the tribe said it would “vigorously pursue legal action to ensure the environmental impact statement order issued late last year is followed so the pipeline process is legal, fair and accurate”