The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified tribal leaders throughout the Missouri River basin by letter on Saturday that areas of Corps-managed federal property north of the Cannonball River will be closed to the public effective December 5, 2016.
The notice posted by Omaha District Commander, Col. John Henderson states the Army Corps is seeking a peaceful and orderly transition to a safer location, and has no plans for forcible removal.
More than 525 people from across the country have been arrested during months of protests over the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline. Members of 200 tribes have protested in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who is fighting the Energy Partners project because it believes it threatens drinking water and cultural sites on their nearby Sioux reservation.
President Obama suggested rerouting the pipeline earlier this month. The Corps ordered the construction stopped while it continued to evaluate possible solutions to the situation. However, Energy Transfer Partners refused the Corps orders and has continued to stage equipment for the underground drilling segment that will place oil pipes under the Missouri River. Kelcy Warren, CEO of pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners, told the Associated Press the company won’t do any rerouting.
Last week, Energy Transfer Partners was acquired by Sunoco and rumors were Warren would be forced out of his position. It is too early to tell how the acquisition, due to close in late January, will affect the Dakota Access Pipeline project.