Feds Delay Decision on Dakota Pipeline Construction

November 15, 2016

The Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Interior Monday delayed a decision on whether to allow drilling beneath the Missouri River reservoir, Lake Oahe, for continuation of Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers said it wants input from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is extremely close to the planned pipeline, before making a decision.

Meanwhile, opponents of the project are planning 250 protest rallies Tuesday. The #NoDAPL Day of Action seeks to encourage the Obama administration to take action to stop the pipeline while he is still in office.

Protests will be focused outside Army Corps offices throughout the country, and at major banks financing construction of the pipeline. Norwegian bank DNB said it would reconsider financing the project if the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux were not addressed. In Houston, Texas, demonstrators will gather outside Energy Transfer Partners' office.

Leaders from indigenous tribes and the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) organized the Tuesday protest plans.

Construction of the $3.7 billion, 1,172 mile pipeline has been drawing protests since spring 2016. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmental groups say the pipeline it could pollute nearby water sources and construction will destroy the tribe’s sacred sites.

According to Phillips 66, one of the pipeline investors, the build is about 85 percent complete. Despite not having all the required legal permits to continue, Energy Transfer Partners has moved to the Lake Oahe area and said last week it will begin drilling within two weeks. The Army Corp has requested repeatedly ETP stop construction but the company has refused.

President Obama has expressed support for finding a solution to the problem, but pipeline opponents may not find an advocate in president-elect Trump. Although the president-elect has not weighed in on the Dakota Access specifically, he has expressed strong support for development of energy infrastructure projects, including oil pipelines. Kelcy Warren, the top executive at Energy Transfer, donated more than $100,000 to the Trump campaign.